Ever listen to a song that reaches into your soul and
doesn’t let go?
“I Am” by Crowder is that song for me.
Each time a storm rages in my life, I listen to
this song so as to be reminded that I can run to God, hold onto God and never
But this morning it hit me.
I Am is the One holding me in the middle of the
I am being held by the Great I Am.
Ugh! That spearheaded my soul like no other
Sure, it should’ve been obvious. A big “duh”
moment for me. But sometimes, I think it’s about perspective and how I relate
Up until this moment I guess I always viewed my
relationship with God as me, chasing Him. Me, trying to please God. I thought I
was the one doing the holding. In fact, the image that always comes to mind
when I listen to this song, is that of the woman with the bleeding disease
found in Luke 8:43-48.
For 12 long years this woman sought doctors and
different medicinal treatments to no avail. She was an outcast in her
community. Shunned by those close to her.
Then came Jesus.
Her heart knew that all she needed was Jesus.
To grasp hold of God, even in the smallest way, through the touching of His the
hem would be enough.
Just one touch.
She fought the crowds, ignored the ridicule,
with one goal in mind, Jesus.
On some level, this is how I see myself with Jesus. Me, in my desperation, during moments of chaos and storms, chasing after Him. Just like the woman in Luke 8, the goal is reaching Jesus.
Never in all my years of knowing Him, did it ever dawn on me that Jesus was already holding me. There wasn’t any need to chase. No panic needed. Instead, rest and security was His promise to me.
His efforts, not mine.
The Holy I Am was already aware of what I
needed and able to give it.
Even now as I write this, tears flow.
The truth that God Himself would love me enough
to hold me through the storms and beyond, is humbling. I didn’t have to chase
Him. I didn’t have to fight crowds to be healed from the chaos of my life. I Am
was already holding me.
“I Am holding on to you
I Am holding on to you
In the middle of the storm
I Am holding on
This is the truth for each of us.
There is no need for us to feel like we’re the
ones doing all the reaching out, God is already holding us in the palm of His
hand. In fact, He promises in Romans 8:38-39 the following: “ For I am convinced that neither death nor
life, neither angels or demons, neither the present or the future, nor any
powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be
able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Today dear friend, I pray this truth sinks deep
into our souls. May we accept His gift of being held in the middle of our
storms so that we may rest in The Great I Am.
Generally speaking I’m like most folks who attend our small church and I sit in the main sanctuary. Then there are times like today when I sense the Lord urging me to be still.
As I entered church I felt the familiar tugging in my soul urging me to head upstairs to the quiet balcony.
The moment I climbed the last step and turned to look out at the birds eye view splayed before me, I was awestruck. Sun radiated through the side stained glass windows, speckling the blue carpet with shards of multi-colored shapes. The pew lined sanctuary with a deep center cut aisle seemed to echo the words, “enter in, enter in.”
I noticed my good friend Marne** manning the computer used to display the song lyrics on the big screens during worship.
Our small 5 person band finished their set as snippets of laughter and muted conversations wafted up to the balcony as guests slowly filed into the sanctuary.
Laughter, music, friendship, and a sovereign reverence filled the air.
Wanting to soak it all in, I settled into my seat, closed my eyes and offered up a prayer, asking God to open my heart and mind to what He wanted to share with me this morning.
Suddenly I heard the old worn pew creak as a body quietly sat down next to me. A look to my left revealed it was Marne, only this time, she looked forlorn.
I was a bit confused; moments earlier she was grinning ear to ear, her typical jovial self. Now, not so much. Something was definitely grieving her.
“What’s going on?”
Tears welled up in her eyes, “I don’t know why I think I can do this. I’m not very good at computers. This morning as I was trying to get all of the slides in order for today’s sermon, nothing worked. I couldn’t find a single song. I looked everywhere on the computer and I couldn’t find them. I don’t know why I bother.”
I tried my best to reassure her “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You always do a great job, It’ll all be OK. Remember, give yourself grace.”
Just as I said those words, our pastor came up and asked to see her at the computer board. As they worked quietly together I re-centered my thoughts back to why God had drawn me upstairs. Show me Lord, don’t let me miss a single thing you want to share.
A few minutes later Marne was back, only this time, her smile had returned. “Well, see there. It wasn’t me after all. I thought the reason I couldn’t find the songs was because I was too stupid to figure it out. But the pastor told me, he’d forgotten to download them.”
I shook my head, “See…I knew it would all work out.”
Tears sprang to her eyes again but she quickly wiped them away, “I know. I’m so hard on myself all at time.”
“I can be that way too.”
The band started playing which signaled the end of our conversation. We hugged quickly and Marne returned to the computer board and I headed to a small corner of the balcony to watch the activity below, unfold.
The band with its singers, ushers, communion servers and those standing to worship gathered together to bring their talents and gifts to the Lord as an act of worship.
As I mulled over my conversation with Marne, and watching people stand in worship it dawned on me, that none of us come to His sanctuary perfect. We’re all in need of His grace.
It’s in our hearts to give what we have, including our limits, as an offering to the One our soul loves, God Almighty.
As I watched the band rock out, encouraging the congregation to make a joyful noise, I started thinking about the interchange between my friend and I.
How often do we think we’re stupid? That our gifts are lame and that God wouldn’t accept them? As I pondered the thoughts, I watched my friend Jen** play the drums. Jen is self-taught and will quickly admit her struggles as a new drummer. Sometimes she is too slow, too upbeat or too loud.
Yet despite those issues, Jen, like Marne continue to bring their giftings into the the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. A heartfelt act of worship.
Both of my friends, worry their inadequacies will be unacceptable in the sanctuary of our Lord.
It’s a lie!
Satan constantly whispers those types of lies in our ears, even in the sanctuary of our Lord, aiming to convince us that we are not enough.
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” ~ Matthew 21:15-16
Friend, I want you to know this, God created you, loves you and is blessed by your efforts. God knows your heart and accepts a sweet gift from you, His child, who entered into His sanctuary to praise Him,
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been singing for 30 years in the choir or have always served on the weekly meal ministry team. What matters is your heart. What is it you want to give to the Lord?
What’s the condition of your heart? Are you worried you are not enough? That God won’t accept your efforts? Or do you serve to get recognition?
It’s wise of us to sit and ask the Lord to bubble up the truth of our efforts. Let Him be the One to tell you “thank you” or “please re-examine your motives.” After all, isn’t He the One we came to praise? Haven’t we entered into His holy sanctuary?
Every single drummer, children’s ministry helper, usher, middle schooler who helps pass the collection plate and homeless man serving communion, they are precious in His sight.
That includes you!
Let me ask you this: What are you offering the Lord in praise? In thanksgiving?
Whatever it is, if freely and willingly offered up to the Lord in thanksgiving and praise, it is accepted. This gift can simply be you. Maybe you walked in the backdoor of the church with a bunch of strangers and you simply want to sit silently in prayer. Acceptable!
Maybe your heart leads you to work in the children’s ministry cutting out crafts. Acceptable! Whatever it is that God is leading you to do, remember, it is an act of worship. A gift to God!
Never accept the lie from satan that tries to prevent you from entering the Lord’s courts with thanksgivings and praise! He is worthy of your praise and you are loved by God Almighty!
1 Chronicles 16:23-31
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!””
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