currently reading La-Tan Roland Murphy’s book, Becoming A Woman Of Interior Elegance. La-Tan’s book centers around
the premise of becoming a God designed woman of elegance.
In Chapter 6
La-Tan poses the following question in Chapter 6, “Think about women in your life who have been women of interior
elegance. What characteristics did you admire most and desire to model your
listed off 3 women who have greatly impacted my walk with God. These women,
whom I have known 20+ years role model for me what it is to put God first in
every single area of their lives; marriage, ministry, friendships, work.
Then it hit me. What I admire about these 3 ladies is what I don’t have in my own life.
These 3 admirable all have 1 thing in common; they seek God before making any decisions, in all areas of their lives.
Now to be honest, I’d like to say I do the same but…honestly, 9 times out of 10 only seek God after I’ve done everything I can to navigate all of the areas of my life and then fail.
After all of these years of knowing these ladies, it should’ve been evident what I was doing wrong, but I think my pride kept me from accepting the truth. Matthew 6:33 reminds us of the following, “But seekfirst his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Now here’s the amazing truth, we can start again. Today. In God’s economy it’s never too late to put Him first.
Whatever I’ve done in the
past, however I’ve lived my life, God will forgive me when I ask, and lead the
way when I seek to follow Him.
Today. That’s a commitment I’m making.
I don’t want to live another day, minute or hour doing it my way. I want to draw closer to God in such a way, that God will change me to such a degree that God gets all the glory.
Friend, let me just say, it’s never too late. If you’re like me and have lived a lifetime doing it your own way, please know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with you and for you. He loves you with an everlasting love and He is waiting for you to call on His name.
I pray that if you struggle like I do to put God first, that today you would join me in taking this first step to seek God first. Let us band together in prayer, asking for God to forgive us and to restore our footing so that from this moment on we will follow Him first in our thoughts, words and deeds.
While we’re at it, let us not forget to give Him all the thanksgiving and glory He deserves for what He’s about to do on our behalf for His glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray this for us. Amen
As you go back to your day, please know that I am praying for you and asking God’s hand to be upon your life.
“My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” ~ Psalm 71:8
Yesterday morning as I was reading Psalm 71 I noticed a pattern of the psalmist crying out to God, begging God to rescue and him from the painful enemy attacks. Despite the heartache, despite waiting on God to change his circumstances, the psalmist sings praises to the Lord. Verse 15 says, “ My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long; though I know not its measure.“
Which got me to thinking, how in the world is it possible to sing when I’m in pain?
The idea that in my pain I should sing out to the Lord had me baffled. Because let me be real here, when my world comes crashing down, I’m in full mode emotion. Tears, anger, frustration, fear, I’m just like the psalmist, crying out to God begging Him for protection and relief.
So the idea of a person praising God in the midst of suffering rolled around my thoughts much like a pair tennis shoes thrown in a dryer. Ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise…ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise.
I couldn’t shake the idea I was missing something God really wanted me to understand. Combining pain and praise did not make any sense.
These thoughts were still spinning the next day as I drove over to meet a friend for a walk. On my car stereo the playlist from my phone shuffled from one song to the next.
Traffic inched to a stop and this song came on. My breath caught and tears poured down my cheeks.
This song is the only one I truly have associated with my dad. As if it were happening right this moment, a memory of me as a 5 year old little girl standing in the backseat of my dad’s sky blue Buick with white vinyl seats as this song played.
I remember his left arm resting on the top of the rolled down window as he gripped the steering wheel with his right, his little pinky, where he wore a silver band tapped out the beat against the steering wheel.
The warm summer breeze filled the car right alongside of the melody. For me, this was heaven. Just me and daddy singin’ this song. Time stood still for 2.5 minutes, frozen in my mind’s eye, forever.
Precious, sweet moments of a little girl who thought her daddy was magical, god-like, invincible. Daddy was a mixture of John Wayne swagger and Elvis’ good looks. The combination made him larger than life and I thought there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.
I was wrong.
He couldn’t beat death.
To hear this song for the first time since his death 9 months earlier brought a surge of pain so deep I couldn’t hold back the tears. This song reminded me instantly of what I’d tried to put out of my mind for the last 9 months.
Daddy was gone.
There’d be no more time spent sittting in the garage watching him rebuild a motorcycle engine. No more playing, “Name That Tune” every time a song came across the radio.
Death had taken my dad and left behind a chasm of pain so deep no amount of tears will ever fill it.
For a brief second as I was driving I honestly considered pulling over to just allow myself to cry. Flat out, bawl for the loss of my dad. Something I haven’t done since he passed.
The logical side of me shunned the thought of making my friend wait on me while I had a meltdown so I kept on driving and hitting the shuffle button. I was determined to find a song that would help change my frame of mind. I figured if one song could bring me to tears then certainly another could pull me out of the pain.
Then it hit me, wait a stinkin’ minute, isn’t that what the psalmist was talking about in Psalm 71?
I hit the shuffle button on my phone. I needed something to soothe my soul, take away the pain and make everything better.
Nothing fit the bill.
Not my favorite rockin’ 80’s music, not classical, not movie musicals, not even Christmas music. Every song left me feeling empty and worse than when daddy’s song played.
The psalmist said, “My lips will shout for you when I sing praise to You – I, whom you have redeemed.” Psalm 71:23
So there’s the key, songs of praise to God. Acknowledgement for what He alone has done in my life.
Time for more honesty, I didn’t want to sing praise music. I was knee-deep in heartbreak. It’s true this verse came to mind as I was crying over my dad, and I knew I should pull up my Praise and Worship music as the psalmist had done but, honestly, I just wanted the pain to stop.
I didn’t want an upbeat song, I wanted the memory of losing my dad and my deep heartache to stop.
I shuffled through dozens of songs and couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. Now I was beginning to feel worse than when I heard daddy’s song. Reliving my father’s death and the reality that nothing was taking the pain away amplified my hurt.
Finally, I gave in. I did it the psalmists’ way and I pulled up my Praise and Worship music. I found the one that spoke to my pain and to my acknowledgement of just how much I needed God and to His goodness.
Music is our way of singing to the Lord our thanksgiving for all that He has done in our lives. A way of remembering all that is freely given by way of His love for us.
In the end, by following the example of the psalmist, God took my pain and healed it with His love. A moment of desperation turned to praise.
My prayer for you is you will do the same. Only don’t do what I did. Don’t waste precious moments looking for songs that will gloss over your pain. looking for anything but praise to our Father to take away your pain. You will be sorely disappointed and hungry for healing until the moment you surrender your pain to Him and turn it over to praise for all that He has done in your life. He did so, for the love of you!
May we always be quick to turn our hearts and mouths to praise. Praise to our Father.
One Sunday morning at
a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to
lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said,
“Lord, I hate buttermilk.”
The pastor opened one
eye and wondered where this was going. The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate
lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, “Lord, I
ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But if you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em
in a hot oven, I sure do love biscuits.”
Six weeks ago my husband and I were thinking life was
beginning to settle down and we were starting to see glimpses of what
empty-nesting would be like. Our oldest
son lived 2 hours away with a great job and apartment. Our youngest, while
still living at home was making great strides in his job and after buying his
first car was talking about moving out to go live with his brother. Together
they surmised they’d be able to help one another with the rent, put some money
in the bank and enjoy their days off, hiking, a hobby they both enjoyed.
Before that happened our youngest wanted to use the great
insurance coverage from his job to get a quail egg sized lump removed from his
wrist as it was beginning to bother him. Into the doctor’s he went, thinking as
we all did that it was simply a water filled cyst.
Two x-rays and a biopsy later proved it was bone cancer.
Our worlds stopped.
Cancer is not a word anyone takes lightly. It’ll stop you in
your tracks and cause your heart to sink to your stomach. While we moved
forward with the surgery and radiation treatments, the storms of our lives
continued to swell.
Our boys have always been close. So when our youngest was
having his radiation it wasn’t a surprise to have our oldest come home to be
with the family, as a way to support his brother. However, when 2 days turned
into 4 and 4 into 6, we knew something wasn’t right. Our oldest was always
dependable, spot on, never missed a day of work and so the extended visit set
off alarm bells. He’d only been at his new job less than a year so the timing
didn’t seem right.
When his dad took him out to lunch, we learned he’d lost his
job. The company was downsizing and he, a new employee was part of the first
wave of employees to be let go.
Suddenly the stressful look on his face when he’d come home
a week earlier now made sense. Not only was he worried about his brother, he now
didn’t have a job and bills were piling up fast. College financial lenders don’t care if you’re out of work, they still
want to be paid.
As we were realing from the cancer diagnosis and the news of our oldest being unemployed, we were hit again with another wave of news, my husband was given 1 week by his employer to prove that after 12 years of service, whether or not that they should keep him. If he could come up with an arguably good case, they’d keep him. If not, he’d be out of a job.
A few days later as we were trying to wrap our brains around
all that was happening, my mom called. She was on her way to stay for an
undeterminable amount of time.
“Wait…what? Undetermined? Staying with us?” These were the words swirling around in my head as I tried to make sense of every wave of challenge that swept over us.
According to mom, the loss of my father last fall, left her feeling lonely and lost. She wanted to “get away” to help her think through her grief and figure out her next step in life.
As if that wasn’t enough, my husband’s father fell off a
ladder and ended up in the emergency room. And…although this sounds a bit odd,
even our poor little pup was thrown into the mix of chaos when she tore a
ligament in her front leg.
Honestly, my husband and I got to the point where we didn’t
want to answer the phone.
Seriously, what could happen next?
We didn’t want to know.
So here we have 1 son fighting off cancer, 1 son moving home because of job loss, my husband’s job on the line, my mother moving in with us, my father in law recovering from a fall and a hurt dog.
When in life does that all happen within a span of 8 days?
Apparently, God was/is making biscuits in the midst of the storms of our lives.
In and of themselves, each event was enough to knock us to our knees. They were painful and ugly challenges that we didn’t like or want in our lives.
To say the least, lots of prayers were said and tears shed.
Now here’s comes the tough part.
It takes a hot oven to make great biscuits.
Yet God is good and we trust Him.
Not our circumstances.
This is the rock of truth we stand on. God’s ability. God’s
promise. Not the storms.
“And we know that in
all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called
according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28
So let me ask you: how hard is it, in the middle of the storm, for you to trust God? Do you live in fear? Are you overwhelmed and pulled under by waves of life?
We certainly feel that way. These storms are not minor. These are life events that really “bake” your faith.
Will you join me in believing God’s promises for your life? Let us stand together, linking arms through the battles of life, knowing, trusting our God to keep His promises. Let us do so even when we are scared that the worse-case scenario may happen.
This is where our faith is tested and God is glorified. Through us, through our pain and ugly circumstances. Yes, He can and will remain God Almighty, our Protector, Provider, Counselor, Healer, Comforter. Yahweh. Jesus. Holy Spirit. Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and The End.
I believe there is a choice. One that is made when life is at its most difficult and it’s made deep down in our soul.
A choice that says, yes, my world is crumbling but God’s got this. He loves my kids, me, my husband, my extended family, all of us to the degree that He gave His only Son, Jesus so that we will forever be with Him.
Do you believe that?
Or will you choose to believe that God can’t keep His promises. That somehow our challenges, our pain is bigger than He is and that we must be the ones doing everything in our power to change our pain.
Now that’s hard stuff right there. Because honestly, don’t we all immediately go into survival mode when the life beats us down? We start looking to our own strength our own resolutions to get us out of the heat. But God wants us to look to Him. Rest in Him. Trust in Him, for all things at all times.
Trusting doesn’t mean there isn’t any pain. Trusting means
you will choose to hold onto God, His word until He gets you through it all.
Trusting means that we believe what God says about who He
is, who we are to Him and His ability to work in our lives in the midst of
So then the question remains: Do you believe God will take the “the lard, the flour, the buttermilk” situations of your life and turn them into biscuits?”
I work for an assisted living community and one afternoon as I was covering the front desk I watched as one of our residents made his way to our front lobby. With nary a sound he slowly bee-lined it to one of the large overstuffed chairs, facing the parking lot and back up to the fireplace. Eventually, he plopped down into the soft cushions with an exasperated, “umph.”
The distance between us was less than 30 feet when I called out a greeting, “Hi Charles.”** With a quick nod and a baritone rich, “Hello dear,” this navy colored beret wearing gentle man propped his elbow on the armrest of the floral printed chairs, bowed his head and closed his eyes.
Now my good friend Charles is known throughout the community for his napping. Good weather or bad, winter or summer, cold or unseasonably warm, Charles could always be found sitting inside or out, soaking up a sunbeam.
Today was no different, Charles looked cozy, his aged eyes gently closed as the early afternoon sunshine splayed out across his lap.
It wasn’t long before a rhythmic deep breathing could be heard. Smiling to myself I turned my attention back to the stack of medical files.
Moments later I heard low gentle mumbling. A glance over my shoulder showed that none of the other residents had wandered in from lunch so I shrugged it off thinking Charles must be talking in his sleep.
“Holy Spirit, thank you for today. Father, please forgive me for anything that I’ve done to displease You…”
Wait, what did I just hear? Did he just say what I thought he said?
Charles’ voice was barely audible but his words were clear. He was talking to God. Right there in broad daylight, in the middle of the lobby. No pomp. No circumstance. Just my good friend and his Lord.
I smiled. It always does my heart good to hear another child of God praying. It’s reassuring to know that others are adding their voices in a cacophony of praise to the One who loves us.
At the same time, I realized I had wandered into holy ground. Charles, through his prayers had created a sanctuary right where he sat.
Now to be honest if I could’ve looked away, I would have. But the reverence in his words, the love that poured from his heart captivated me. It was as if I was being given this precious gift, a lesson on what prayer could and should be like and I wanted nothing to disturb this sacred moment.
I fought back tears because I knew I was witnessing something so poignant, hallowed. I wanted time to slow down, for someone to hit the replay button of life so I could relive it over and over.
I didn’t want to invade Charles’ private conversation with God because those moments were glimpses of sacred ground created by a God who loved his child and a child who loved His heavenly Father.
Thankfully I had been blessed with a front row seat.
The interchange was breathtaking.
I could’ve sat there endlessly watching this prayer unfold but to show respect, I quietly forced myself to turn away and honor this gentle man’s conversation with his Lord.
But the truth is, how does one simply go back to work when you’ve just entered a sacred sanctuary? And frankly why would you even want to? More than anything I wanted to add my voice with Charles’. I wanted to sit in the sanctuary of prayer and thank Him for all of the blessings He’d bestowed upon my life.
When Charles ended his conversation with God, he left the lobby, never once looking my way.
I was awestruck. The sincerity. The genuine love Charles’ words parlayed were so filled with adoration, caused me to not only rethink my own prayer life, which in honesty were a little lackluster, it also triggered the story of Moses and the burning bush.
3:1-6 “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the
priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and
came to Horeb, the mountain of God.2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.
Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange
sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him
from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your
sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of
Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
See…that’s what I’m talking about. Moses was going about his business, tending flocks and all of a sudden God shows up. Like Moses, once we realize that we are on holy ground and to whom we are speaking, we are overcome with love and reverence to the degree that nothing, absolutely nothing else matters. Not time, not environment, nothing, except you and God.
I want moments like these in my life, don’t you?
I want to actively seek the Lord in any given situation and pour out my heart to Him like I saw Charles do. Openly. Buoyantly attentive to only one quest, communing with the Lord.
“Lord, today I praise You for giving us an example through Charles’ walk as to what it can look like to share our hearts with You. May we always be able to boldly ask for forgiveness, know it is given because of the gift of Jesus and His sacrifice, and to know that every moment communing with you is holy ground. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
Jesus loves you!
**Names and identifying specifics have been changed to protect those whom I write about. I have been given permission to share their story.
This season of my life has been hard. And when I say “season” I’m not talking about your typical varying months of spring, summer, fall and winter. I’m talking about a soul season that so far, has lasted over three years.
When we moved from our home in central Oklahoma to upstate Washington, where rain is a constant companion, culture and environment are polar opposites and where my faith has been tested to its limits I didn’t think it would take me this long to adjust. After all, prior to our 11 year stint in Oklahoma we lived in Washington. So I was familiar with the weather, culture and vibe.
Returning to the PNW means I’ve been feeling like a fish out of water frantically gasping for water to breathe. I’ve completely struggled to fit in, find friends and build a community. It’s not so easy when the culture here tends to be, as my brother-in-law calls it, “pleasant but aloof.”
Folks generally keep to themselves.
Not an easy temperament to understand for someone like myself who still talks to her childhood friends whose friendship spans 4 decades. The struggle to connect here has lead to a feeling of isolation. A feeling that you don’t quite fit in and no one really cares if you do. Something to do with folks generally being islands unto themselves.
What I do know is that its been very difficult that past three years. We’ve moved from our family home, to a small rental. Sunshine vs. constant rain. A house full of kids to now only seeing our boys on occasion, our financial solvency, gone and my father, who was my symbol of strength has passed away, leaving a void that will never be filled.
Everything that was good and important and right in our worlds a few years ago, is gone. There’s no going back. No turning back the hands of time to the life we were living then, with one or two small exceptions. Our small family is still intact and I still love God.
I’m not sure what He’s up to in our lives. Why He brought us here or where we’ll go from this point forward. But I still believe He loves me and He has a plan for my life.
Which is why coming to terms that God has brought me back to the one place I never wanted to return. Afterall, how does one love God but feel so conflicted with His will? Aren’t they supposed to be the same? Loving God means everything makes sense?
Sometimes maybe. But for me in this situation. Nothing makes sense.
I want to go back to my old life.
My heart grieves..
I grieve for a time and place that can not be recaptured. I grieve over the loss of my father and his stability in my life. I miss heading down to my parents home, sitting on the back deck, talking about life and watching my kids and dogs play.
I grieve over the loss of not having at least 6 teenage boys swimming out back in the pool, running into the kitchen to grab a hot pocket or pizza roll before cannon balling back into the pool, holding their food up high so as to not get it completely chlorine soaked. I grieve over friendly faces and folks holding the door open for one another and asking you how your day is.
I grieve over hot summer days, icy, winds-that’ll-blow-your-head-off-if-you-don’t-hold-onto-it winter days. I miss the conversations with neighbors at dusk while lightening bugs flicker and cicadas sing their evening song.
But this is where God has us.
I still haven’t grasped His plan for our lives. I struggle to understand why. Why take us from a home we loved, filled with happiness and fulfillment? Why bring us to a place so drastically different? Why take our lives, strip us of everything we knew and held dear and then bring us here? Why?
Truth be told, I may never have a single answer to my questions, this side of heaven. I know and accept that. More importantly I know God is good even if I don’t necessarily agree with His will. I trust His plans are good even if what is happening is painful.
I also know it’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to question, be angry and frustrated at God and the situation. It’s okay to long for different days in the light of a new life so vastly different from the old.
Questioning gives us a chance to come to the Lord and ask, “why?” and to beg Him for His lead and to wait upon the Lord and to seek His face in the midst of pain. All of which will lend itself to soul growth and a deeper walk with the Lord.
Now more than ever before I recognize just how much I need the Lord. Never in my life have I ever felt so lost. So overwhelmed with a lack of direction, sorrow and confusion. I need Him and I am thankful for His love.
So as I continue to walk this long road, I seek Him.
Yes, there will be moments when I’ll grieve for my father and a life I once knew. But as days pass and God presents Himself in the midst of my pain, a new life filled with new blessings and hope will arise, of this I am certain. For the Lord always keeps His promises.
1 I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 2 Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!3 Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave[a] overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow.4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!”5 How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!6 The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me.7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.”
My friend, I pray for you. No matter what road you are one, I pray for God’s hand to be upon you. May you know His love and guidance and may you trust in His will for your life. For He alone is good!
My early morning routine has not changed in 20+ years.
I trek to the kitchen in the wee early hours of the morning, make myself a super hot stokin’ cup of coffee, light the candle on the end of the counter, curl up in my favorite overstuffed chair, grab my bible and settle in for some Jesus time.
This is my favorite time of the day.
Me and Jesus.
Years ago I read somewhere that spending one hour with the Lord in prayer refreshed the soul like newly fallen snow.
As a mid-western raised gal I know what the first snow feels, smells and sounds like.
The world is peacefully quiet. A soft hush muffles normal everyday sounds. And there’s a refreshment that the world has been blanketed in a new beginning.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re missing something really special and I recommend you head north until you find some snow time!
But I digress.
The point I’m trying to make is that in these few hours each morning, I’m able to sit with the Lord and enjoy, be refreshed, renewed all the while there’s a hush whispered over my spirit.
When the world is quiet I am able to focus my prayers on those I love – my husband, my kids, extended family and friends. Sometimes my prayers lean towards filling my journal with ‘Thank you’s’ for the good things and the bad. And then still there are other times when I pull on my head phones, crank up my favorite worship music and sing my heart out to God. And still, there are the ugly times. When I’m crying, angry, frustrated and down-right mad at the world for something that’s happening in my life that bring tears.
All of it is ok.
God understands. He gets me.
I don’t surprise Him.
I don’t make God mad nor do I disappoint Him in anyway when I share my heart.
I am loved.
I can rest in His truth.
Do you remember the song by Avalon called, “Light A Candle?” If not, no worries, I’ve linked a copy of the song below.
Normally this song is played during the holiday season to remind each of us to step outside of ourselves during the holiday hustle and bustle to stop a moment and pray for everyone God calls to mind.
The first time I heard this song, I wanted to go out and buy a case of candles and send one to every person in my life with the lyrics typed on an index card as a reminder that while we were miles apart or maybe broken hearts keep us at bay, I still loved that person.
I wanted them to know I loved them and was praying for them.
Truth be told, I wanted God to show up in our lives. To make His presence real to me. I wanted God to heal what was broken, ask for forgiveness and to let the other person know, I’d also offer forgiveness.
God is good at healing and forgiveness.
So my early morning tradition remains.
Up waaayyyy too early. Hot coffee cup tucked between my palms as I slowly greet the Lord and thank Him for my life. These moments are dear to my heart because I don’t want to start my day without God.
I’ve done it a time or two or twenty… and it ain’t pretty. Just sayin’…
I need time with God so I can hear His voice, feel His presence and know that no matter happens that day, God is good, He is with me and He will never leave my side.
I encourage to do the same.
Set aside a special part of you day. Make it a routine. Pretty soon, an hour will turn into days, then months and then POOF! Years will have flown by and your time with God will be change your life like the first fresh new fallen snow.
When you do you can rest assured that I lit a candle and prayed for you.
May your hearts be refreshed as you spend with the Lord.
During my prayer time today God led me to Ezekial 37, The Valley of Dry Bones. Today, I believe God wanted to remind me that I am always walking in the Valley of Dry Bones.
We all are.
In every area of lives there are those who desperately need to hear the word of God.
I’m one of them.
Every day I need the refreshment of God’s promises of love, the reassurance He’ll never leave my side, that He’s right there in the thick of things in my life and He’ll never, ever let me go.
I am a sinner. Plain and simple. I need Christ more today than I ever have.
Each day brings forth its own set of challenges. Things that I cannot handle on my own. I have aging parents that live 1500 miles away and I’m helpless to meet their needs.
I have grown children who make decisions that make my stomach clench in knots and cause sleepless nights, soul exhaustion and plenty of gray hair!
I am surrounded by those who openly oppose the Lord and challenge me each time they see the cross I wear around my neck. It’s draining.
And yet, I truly believe that I am right where the good Lord wants me.
What about you? Do you feel so alone you might as well be in the Mojave Desert with the hot winds of isolation, the heat of fear pounding down, sapping every ounce of strength, leaving behind exhaustion and thirst for a better tomorrow?
Maybe you are so broken, tears no longer fall.
Friend – God is with you. He loves you.
Do you believe that truth?
God asks Ezekial, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekial answers, “O Sovereign Lord, only You know.”
Let me ask you, “Do you believe God can breathe life back into you?”
Lord only You know.
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of will He?
There are people, places, things in our lives that God may not revive or restore to us. Such as a toxic abusive relationship. Or maybe a great job was taken from you due to a company restructuring and the timing couldn’t be worse because your rent went up $200, your child fell at school and busted his front teeth and needs $1000 worth of dental work and your car needs a new battery. Or what if your baby girl just lost her battle with leukemia, the funeral is set for Saturday and you don’t have the will to get out of bed or to run a comb through your hair because the pain is so deep, so raw, you can’t breathe.
Is God in those moments? Can God take our broken, dry bones and breathe life back into them again?
Only God knows if those barren places are where He will choose to open the gates of living, refreshing water of life.
Do you trust Him to do so? Or maybe an even bigger question is, do you trust Him not to? Neither answer is easy and yet, either way, trust is involved. I want to encourage you to step out of your pain, your fear, your worry and let God be God in your life.
Trust your heart to the Lord and then ask Him to keep His promises over you, to heal and protect you and to breathe the His holy healing breath over your life. It’s ok to ask. It’s ok to accept. It’s ok to be loved by the Father.
My prayer for you is that you would indeed call out to God and allow Him the opportunity to show His love for you.
I left for work on Wednesday morning knowing all I had to do was to get through the next 9 hours. Then I could finally take a long weekend off.
I was more
I shoved aside my exhaustion and kicked myself back into survival mode.
Maybe you know what that’s like. Going through the motions, no joy, no hope, with nothing more to give and the only way you’re making it through the day is by digging deep in your soul, slapping on a smile and counting the seconds until work is over and you can slump into the seat of your car so you can make your way home just to fall into bed.
That was 1000% me Wednesday morning.
When my eyes popped open the next day I breathed in slowly. A bit hesitant to get excited about the upcoming time off.
With everyone still asleep in the house I pulled on my windbreaker and tennis shoes, leashed up my 2 pups and headed out for an early morning walk. Just me, God, my exhaustion and my 2 dogs.
As I walked, the realization that I had nowhere to go, no one to see and all the time in the day to do nothing began to seep into my soul. My normal break neck speed slowed. My mind began to accept I was truly on a hiatus and it was ok to let go of work, life and heartaches that had been building up.
Without warning my internal dialogue with the Lord shifted from frustrations and anger about my life, to, “Hey wait a minute, the trees are changing colors. It’s fall. I love fall. I don’t want to miss this, slow down and enjoy.”
With each step I took, I began to see and feel life.
air filled my lungs and pulled the few wisps of hair I’d tucked behind my ears out
from underneath my ballcap and tossed them to and fro across my cheeks.
This was my favorite time of year and I wasn’t missing it.
As I focused on the brilliant fall colors intermixed with the last green leaves of summer I tripped and almost face-planted on the sidewalk. When I looked to see what caught my foot I noticed a tree root system squeezed ever so tightly in between the cracks of the sidewalk, bursting forth and making itself known.
It struck me then that the root was like my life at the moment. Despite the hardships, struggles, pain and pressures I was experiencing in my life, God in His infinite wisdom and love was providing a way for me to get through the tough times and still grow.
I needed to trip over that root and be reminded that God sees beneath the hard stuff of my life. He knows what takes us to our knees in heartache and He will use to create beauty.
What we see
as impossible, God makes possible.
In fact, as I correlated the analogy of this trees root growing in impossible conditions and how God does the same in my life, I began to notice perfect impossibilities in the trees around me:
Sometimes the stripes of pain we endure mar our outward appearance but eventually will lead to beauty.
The bumps and bruises of situational challenges cause us to have character and depth.
And even when we feel as if every hope is cut out of our life…
God has the ability to take what looks to be dead and bring it back to life!
My friend, we serve a mighty God! A God who loves us so much that He absolutely refuses to leave us where we are.
Instead, whether we can see His hand in our lives, or if we’re completely blinded by the pain we are experiencing we can trust, like the root growing in impossible cemented conditions, God is a God of ever possible solutions and He will grow you in ways and in “soils” that you didn’t even think were possible.
My friend, there
is hope in His love for us. God sees a way when we think all is lost and He
will take our pain and create beauty out of our lives that we will not imagine
or begin to understand until His work is done.
bless you today and show you just how precious you are to Him no matter what
you are going through and where you are headed, God loves you!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heart, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
I picked up this book for one reason, we were facing giants in our lives. Not just one, as did David when he fought Goliath but an army full of them. In fact, it seemed that as soon as we finished one battle, another enemy came forth, taunting and baiting us into war.
We were exhausted. Battle weary. My husband and I needed advice, help and wisdom on how to withstand yet another attack. Sometimes, when I’m in the thick of a battle I need that cheering squad to remind me just who I am and who God is. “Facing the Giants” did that.
Most of us know the story of David and Goliath. David, the scrawny good looking teenage family outcast, sent by his father with food to aid in the support of his older brothers who were on the front line of battle against their arch enemy the Philistine’s and their monster frontman, Goliath.
When David hears Goliath taunting and bad-mouthing God, indignancy welled up in David as he threw down the gauntlet, grabbed 5 smooth stones and ran into battle.
Keep in mind, David didn’t fight for his sake, he fought for the name of the Lord. In fact, in this story, David knew God had the power to fully defeat the enemy all on His own, and yet David stood for God as a willing participant against Goliath and the Philistine army.
But when it comes to our own lives is that how we see the trials that taunt us? Do we rear up in righteous indignation, prepare ourselves to be used by the Lord to bring Him glory or do we pull back like David’s brothers? Afraid? Shrinking back, already defeated?
If I’m completely honest, it’s yes to both. There are times when life will kick me off of my soapbox and before my fanny hits the ground, I’ve already given up the will to stand firm in God’s strength and power to defeat the trial before me.
Max’s book, “Facing the Giants” reminds me over and over to not focus on the battle but focus on God. To give God the glory, to give Him the praise, to seek joy in the midst of heartache and to be reminded just as David knew that we love and serve the one true Holy Lord Almighty.
I enjoyed reading “Facing the Giants” and found a bounty of helpful tips to implement in my life now and when the next trial hits, such as:
Remember each trial is an opportunity for God to be glorified
No battle is ever too big or too small for our God.
Along with my personal favorite tip, “run towards your Goliath, not away from it” because we know, believe and trust in who and what God can do in any given situation. That little tidbit of advice did wonders to readjust my thought process as it applied to facing trials.
Let’s face it, how many of us look at a burning house and want to go run in? Or how many of us saddle up to the truth we are about to lose our home to foreclosure and welcome the idea to see God glorified through it all?
Reading Max’s book helped me to really grasp the concept that focusing on God instead of my trials allows for a deeper relationship between He and I and through Him I am able to confidently and peacefully walk through whatever is happening in my life, because I know God is with me every step of the way.
If you are in over your head with struggles right now that seem 9 feet tall or even if you’ve recently exited the battle ground and wished you had had more peace, more confidence and a deeper relationship with God because of what you faced, I encourage you to pick up a copy of “Facing Your Giants” by Max Lucado.
I am hopeful you too will find in Max Lucado’s book, another “stone in your pocket” that will enable you to take aim at the enemy, with God at the helm of your lives, defeating your nemesis once and for all.
When I was a kid and acted up or got a little sassy in front of my grandma, she would look over her black rimmed glasses and with the softest but firm voice and say, “Now Amy, don’t be ugly.”
Instantly no matter what I was doing or saying, I’d stop. Part of that immediate change came directly from the fact that I absolutely adored my grandma and did not want to disappoint her, the other part of my change was rooted in fear of having my grandma tell my folks that I was being “ugly” and I get in trouble when I got home.
Either way, her words still ring true today as a reminder that when situations get out of hand or when life isn’t going my way, it is not cause to be “ugly.”
And just so there’s no confusion, grandma wasn’t talking about my appearance.
Ugliness in character generally leads to painful consequences as we see with Miriam, Moses’ sister in Numbers 12:1-16
In this biblical account Miriam and Aaron slandered Moses for a decision he made regarding his wife. As the account goes, God immediately calls all three siblings, Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the Tent of the Meeting and addresses Miriam and Aaron’s verbal assault against Moses. God is not pleased at all with their behavior, in fact, as punishment, Miriam is struck with leprosy. When Aaron sees his sisters leprous state he immediately recognizes their grievous mistake and begs for mercy from Moses who then asks the Lord to heal his sister. God in his mercy granted healing but not without Miriam suffering the consequence of her “ugly” actions and living with leprosy for seven days.
Now when I first read this passage the first thing that came to mind was Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
In Miriam’s story I am reminded that being ugly can take on the form of verbal nastiness towards a loved one, an emotional rejection of a spouse who has wronged you in some way, or even in physical separation from a friend whom you feel betrayed you in some way. All venues are painful and end with terrible consequences.
Reading Miriam’s story, I am quickly reminded how often (erg!) I lose my temper or say words that leave a nasty sting with the ones I love most.
The truth is, once ugly words are said, the damage is done. Being ugly, reacting in anger, popping off without giving full measure to our words before they’re spoken often leads to consequences that may be immediate or may rear their ugly heads days, weeks or even years later.
For example, when my oldest child was just a toddler we were heading home during high traffic time from an afternoon of errands when we pulled up to a stoplight. When the light turned green and the car did not start moving instantly, my son’s voice rang out from the backseat, “C’mon people give it the gas.”
I was shocked to hear him be so snarky, so I questioned him, “Where’d you get that?”
I argued, “You did not. I never say that.”
He just smiled and swung his legs in happy rhythm to the music on the radio.
Meanwhile his words stuck in my craw as we continued our way home.
My thoughts revolved around my son’s nasty comment. “Where in the world did he get that? I bet he got that from his daddy. Or maybe his grandma loses her temper when driving and I’ve just never seen it. Or maybe, it’s his uncle who is known for having no filter.”
As the light turned green and we headed to the next red light I just simply could not put a finger on who it might’ve been who used those words, but I knew it had to be someone who spent enough time with my son in their car that he’d picked up their rude habits.
Traffic was bumper to bumper, and cars were not moving and the more I thought about my son’s comment the more I became irritated with his words and traffic. I wanted to get home as soon as possible to get to the bottom of this, so I could put a stop to it immediately.
I looked up to see a green light and dead-stop traffic. I slammed my hands against the steering wheel and out came the following words, “C’mon people give…it…the…”
I looked back at my son and he smiled like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.
I was 100% guilty.
Without thinking about the damage and destruction I was causing in my own home with my own child, here I was transferring my very ugly habit of fussing at traffic onto my unsuspecting son. I did not like what was being mirrored back to me through the voice of my child.
Miriam is the prime example of the type of power we hold over our family. We set the tones in our homes. We can speak words of encouragement, love and support or we can be like Miriam or even like myself and tear our homes, families and those around us down with our words, actions and deeds.
But please don’t be like me or Miriam. I am am a sinner in need of forgiveness and grace…daily, hourly and moment by moment.
Instead, look to our Lord Jesus Christ who set the example before us to always be kind, gracious, patient, self-controlled, compassionate and filled with love and joy to all around you.