IMG_4200

 

IMG_4200I’ve pulled a muscle in my upper left arm.
The simplest movement sends a shooting pain through my entire arm,
and my whole body winces.
The movement of my fingers when typing sends a vibration up to my shoulder that somehow causes the pain to stir, and even as I write about this ache I realize that my right wrist is sharing in my discomfort by throbbing itself.
Even when I’m completely still,
I have a gnawing awareness of the possibility of my arm beginning to hurt again.
I was thinking this morning about how my whole body seems to have joined in with my left arm’s injury, and for whatever reason, the church as a body has entered my mind.
When someone is hurting,
how do I respond?
Do I hurt too?
Do I ache when others ache?
Do I find my life affected or do I carry on as if nothing has changed?
I don’t ever want my own life goals and plans to get in the way of or keep me from being so closely connected to others that I am incapable of feeling their pain.
I want my nerve endings tapped into the world around me,
so that I am keenly aware of the pain of others.
Today, my body is responding to the needs of my left arm, and it’s causing me to realize just how much I need to improve emotionally in response to the needs of others.
I want to walk through life open to sharing in the hurts of those around me even when it means I will hurt too.
Let’s all remember we are part of the body of Christ and being part of the body means we cannot ignore pain even when we are not directly affected.
We are called to share life deeply.
When we do, God is able to work in much more powerful and effective ways.
Praying for so many this morning who are hurting and asking God to help me feel their pain in a very real way so that I can be part of what they need in order to find comfort.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, 
 
weep with those who 
 
weep.
 
Romans 12:15
 
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for 
 
one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted.
 
I Peter 3:8
20140329_1437

When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

February 27th, 2014

 

20140329_1437Tim and I will be traveling to Huntington tomorrow evening for the visitation of one of his students who was in class one day last week and then found dead that same evening.
He was an only child and my heart breaks as I think of the agony his family is going through and the long road ahead of them.
Several other friends are facing chapters in their lives that are difficult, painful, and confusing.
I log onto Facebook and discover even more friends who are dealing with grief and heartache.
There are no easy answers to the question, “Why?” when I think of any of these situations.
Truthfully, there is a logical answer to most of our pain.
We could talk all day about how God uses this or that in our lives; but in the end, the questions are still hard and the answers still come up short.
So, what do we do when life doesn’t make sense??
How do we walk tough roads and keep our faith?
How do we keep smiling even when everything in our lives can seem so sad.
How do we move on from hard places?
The first thing we have to do is regain a center in our hearts.
What is life all about?
Why are we here?
What is the purpose?
What matters in the end?
When we center our life on Him and His eternal purposes, some of the trials of this life diminish as we hold them up against the perspective of an eternal plan.
Then we have to take all of our questions, our heartache, our sadness, and our pain and somehow place it in His lap.
He’s sitting on a throne and He has room for all of our hurt.
I know I’ve placed enough there to fill His lap time and time again, and yet I believe He as a way of making room for more and more.
He is our Comforter.
When everything in life seems out of control, He is still on the throne in total control.
When I hear things that are upsetting and unable to be explained in human words, I always remind myself that God is not surprised by what I’ve heard.
He promises to go before us smoothing rough places.
 This means He knows some places are going to be rough.
I don’t have any great answers for tough questions,
but I do know the Answer for all our questions.
It is Him.
Turn to Him when life doesn’t make sense, and let Him know exactly how you feel.
He will take our tears and transform them in His time.
He will take your pain and use it in His time.
He can handle your anger, your frustration, your doubts, your fears.
He understands how hard life can be.
If your life doesn’t make sense today, tell God how you feel and wait for Him to answer.
He is listening.
He cares.
And He loves you.
Even when life doesn’t make sense,
He is there..
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6
 
 
 
20140329_1453

A Simple Prayer for Every Day

February 25th, 2014

 

20140329_1453
Lord,
I want to walk closer to you today than I did yesterday but not as close as I will tomorrow.  
Please hold my hand and keep me near you.
 
 In Your Son’s Precious Name,
Amen 
 
20140329_1429

If Monday Could Talk

February 24th, 2014

 

20140329_1429We’ve all seen the poster showing the cat hanging on for dear life with the caption,
“Hang in there. Friday’s coming.”
If Monday could talk,
I have a feeling it would have a lot to say about this poster and this mentality of life.
After all, Mondays have to happen in order for Fridays arrive.
Mondays matter.
They often set the mood for the rest of the week.
They are like the starting line in a race where first few steps determine the pace for all steps to follow.
So, this morning, I’m listening to Monday say,
“Don’t just hang in there this week.  Live fully.  Embrace me.  Make me matter for what I am not just for where I’m leading you.”
My eyes are a little tired this morning.
I stayed up too late last night.
But it’s not Monday’s fault, so I’m taking all the blame.
I’m going to do more than push through the day.
I’m going to smile through, laugh through, love through, and live through every minute of this Monday, because hanging on for Friday limits me to being a going-through-the-motions kind-of person.
I want to be a fully-engaged, productive employee today.
I want to be an in-tune mom and a caring wife today.
I want to be a good friend with an open ear today.
So, Monday, thank you for whispering in my ear this morning.
I heard you
20140329_1432

When We Lay Down the Pen

February 21st, 2014

 

20140329_1432If I could write the perfect story,
it would involve happy people doing happy things and experiencing happy endings.
But when I read a powerful story,
I realize that it includes people who are struggling, people who deal with conflict, and people who face all sorts of not-so-happy endings in many chapters of their lives.
Great stories are filled with drama.
Even fairy tales have bad guys, suspense, and moments of regret.
So, as I read the Old Testament and realize that the history of mankind is unfolding right before my eyes, I am keenly aware of God’s insight into what makes a great story.
He knows that even though we long for perfection,
we are captivated by drama.
Because of this, the Bible is filled with flawed people struggling to find their way back to God not perfect people doing everything in the most perfect way.
I cringe when I read about the need for continual sacrifices in the Old Testament and the sprinkling of blood all around the altar.
I cringe because I realize that if I had walked on the earth at that time in history, I too would have needed the very same time of atonement time and time again.
I fall short.
I mess up.
I fail.
I disappoint.
I sin.
And time and time again I find myself feeling so thankful for what Jesus did on the cross.
He took the mess of my life and made it perfect in God’s eyes.
His blood was enough to replace the need for anymore sacrifices.
And the perfect story I long for in my own life becomes a messed-up story God can use to show His love to world filled with people longing to know the power of His grace.
He can use your story too.
He can use your flaws,
your shortcomings,
your weaknesses,
your “not quite good enough” feelings,
and your brokenness.
If I could have written my own story, it wouldn’t have looked anything at all like my life looks today.
Yet I believe with all my heart that God knows best and that He holds the pen that writes my story……………………….and yours.
He is a dramatic author.
He loves suspense.
He uses struggles.
But most of all,
He did what had to be done to allow us all to have the promise of an eternal happy ending.
If you feel like you are trying to hold the pen in order to write your own perfect story,
I encourage you to lay it down.
It’s scary letting go of the movement of the ink through the pages of your life,
but there is freedom in knowing that the Author of Life is writing your today and your tomorrow.
Lay down the pen today and allow Him to write your story even when your story doesn’t make sense.
He’s leading you somewhere you could never imagine on your own.
Thankful for an Author who knows me better than I know myself and loves me anyway.

When Your Roots Show

February 20th, 2014

/ /

 

My most recent profile pic on Facebook reveals some truth about me that sometimes you cannot see.

If you look closely at this pic, you will notice what I’m talking about.

I’m going to blame the more-than-usual appearance of my true color on the fact that I am standing so close to Tim who clearly embraces his roots; but the truth is, it’s just been a long time since I took the time to hide the reality that I am aging!
I’m sitting this morning with color on my hair as my type,
and I’m wondering how long I’ll keep this up?
This hiding of my roots.

I’m thinking that someday soon I’m going to let this effort go and embrace the next stage of life in all its beauty.

Gray hair is a glorious crown; 

it is found in the way of righteousness.

Prov. 16:31 (CSB)

I was reading this morning about the different feasts the Israelites were commanded to celebrate after reaching the Promised Land so that they would not forget their roots.
God wanted these feasts to be a constant reminder of where they started and how God had been with them every step of the way.
Their roots mattered.
These festivals focused on bringing glory to God and showing thanks for all He had done for them.
I wrote in my journal this morning about the fact that as Christians the things we celebrate like Jesus’ birth and resurrection have turned in many ways into celebrations that bring glory to man.
Movies
Gifts
Parties
Commercialism
We’ve allowed our two annual celebrations to be taken over by society on many levels, covering our roots with shopping, new clothes, new toys, and on and on.
I may not stop covering the roots on my head for a little while longer,
but I want to stop covering the roots of my faith.
I believe Jesus was born so that God could walk on this earth with us, sharing in our suffering firsthand.
I believe Jesus died so that the need for sacrifices would end forever.
He covered everything – past and present – with His own blood.
And I believe He conquered death when He rose from the grave.
I also believe that when we accept Him as our Savior we never walk alone again.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit which even Jesus says “is better” than Him staying on earth with us.
One day, our faith in our roots will become sight.
Jesus will return.
There will be no more need for hiding our roots or showing them, 
because in that moment all mankind will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
I don’t want to wait until that day to get it.
I want to get it today, tomorrow, and every single day until I see Him face to face.
I’m not sure if my earthly roots will show on the day He appears,
but I want to be sure my spiritual roots are no secret.
I love Jesus.
He is my everything.
I won’t hide that truth with “Nice – n – Easy” or “Clairol”.
I hope you won’t either!
Share Him with someone today!
Let your “roots” show and have a happy Thursday!

Making Big Decisions

February 19th, 2014

 

http://www.prayers-for-special-help.com/bible-verse-pictures.html
 
 

Have you ever reached a point in life where you’ve had to make a big decision?

I’ve found myself at pivotal moments many times throughout my life.
Times when saying “yes” or “no” to certain choices ultimately changes everything else about my future.
What do I do when I’m just not sure what is best?
What do I do when I can see pros and cons to both options?
What do I do when I’m afraid I could make the wrong decision?I’d like to say that I always seek God first; but if I am completely honest, I fail over and over again.

I often waste a lot of time agonizing over what I should do.
I toss and turn in bed.
I have debates in my head.
I wrestle with fear.
I’m miserable.
I second-guess myself.
I doubt.
I’m unpleasant to be around.
I’m a mess.
Finally, when I realize I’m getting nowhere on my own, I turn to the only One who can truly guide me in the right direction.
These are the three steps that always work when I finally reach a place of letting go.
1.  I turn to God.
2.  I pray for peace.
3.  I patiently wait for an answer
I ask God to cause one choice to make me feel anxious, overwhelmed, and unsteady every time I imagine myself saying “yes.”
Then I ask Him to cause one choice to make me feel calm, secure, and covered in His blessing when I imagine myself saying “yes” to it.
I’ve found that if I lay my options out before Him and say “Please, show me Your will”, He will do exactly that every single time………………in His time.
I’ve discovered through the years that God isn’t a fan of dragging people along but He is a fan of gently leading.
It may take some time to get my answer,
 and I may be a mess for a while as I teeter back and forth in my own strength,
but if I can let go and simply wait………………
God will make clear what is right.
When I jump in and make decisions on my own, I often mess up thinking I know best.
But when I wait, even if it’s up to the very last minute, I will reach a place of quiet rest.
A place where I know God is saying, “Walk this way……………….”
It’s the waiting that’s hard.
It’s the trusting in Someone I cannot see that can be challenging.
It’s believing He will provide an answer eventually when my humanness wants an answer today.
If you find yourself wrestling with a big decision today,
try the steps I mentioned above and see what happens.
Praying for all of you today who read these words and need answers to big questions. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6
 
 
I will instruct you
 and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Psalm 32:8
 
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24
 
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

Why Grief Requires a Winter Faith

February 18th, 2014

 

Layers of snow and ice eventually melt.
Branches thaw, producing buds that burst into all sorts of colors.
White yards begin to show patches of life.
Lawn mowers buzz in neighborhoods all over the world where snow once covered every shade of green, and children run through sprinklers where they once bundled in coats to build snowmen.
No matter how bitter the winds of winter,
spring always follows.
This promise, even as frigid temperatures seem to erase memories of a warm breeze, requires a winter faith.
Life is no different than the changing of seasons.
We would have to hide our head in the sand (or snow) to miss the analogy.
Spring 
Rebirth of what seemed dead
Resurrection of life
As sure as the rising and sinking of the tide
As predictable as the sunrise or sunset
The celebration of a winter faith
Spring
Birds get it.
They wait expectantly on frozen branches, never doubting the return of all things new.
I sometimes slip in the face of long winters.
I begin to wonder if new life can really be found deep below the frozen ground.
And then I see the first hint of hope.
A robin appears.
Chirping is heard in the trees.
As if the birds know we need help living out our winter faith,
they show up at just the right time and say,
“Hang on! Spring is coming!!”
I’m thankful for winter faith,
and I’m thankful for birds that keep me watching for the arrival of spring when the days seem short and the nights seem long.
My grief requires a winter faith –
 a deep, abiding trust in the power of the resurrection.
If you find yourself grieving today, let me be a robin and say,
“Hang on!  Spring is coming!!”
In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.


Eternal Life
Rebirth of what seemed dead
Resurrection of life
As sure as the rising and sinking of the tide
As predictable as the sunrise or sunset
The celebration of a winter faith
Eternal life
20140329_1455

 

20140329_1455Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with the feeling of “coming up short” in life.
I often feel like a failure as I juggle motherhood, my job, being a wife, being a friend, being a sister, being a daughter…………..
oh, and being a disciple of Christ.
The last thing on my list should have come first, but if I retyped it I would be pretending that I had thought of it first which would totally be a lie, and yet another example of how I can quickly come up short.
What do I do with such a messed-up priority list?
I try to get up early to read the Bible.
I whisper prayers (very short ones) throughout the day, because it’s the only way I survive.
And yet, my heart feels pulled in every possible direction so often that I find myself struggling to believe that on the day I stand before God I will really deserve to hear the words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Most days, I feel very far from living a life that is “well done.”
So, this morning as I read about the Israelites finally getting to enter the Promised Land,
I found myself feeling a little better.
I found myself feeling freed up a bit from any need to feel like I have my act all together, because of what the Israelites heard just before crossing over from the wilderness to Canaan.
Moses stands before the crowd of people, and gives one last, long speech.
 I would love to have seen the faces of the Israelites as he said this,
“After the Lord your God has driven them (the Anakites) out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.”  No, it is on account of the wikedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.  It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going to take possession of their land.” (Deuteronomy 9)
 
Moses then goes on to remind them of all the things they have done wrong in the wilderness.
All the times they have messed up, looked to false gods, lost their faith,and rebelled against God.
Clearly, the Israelites were a mess.
And still God was with them, walking with them, leading them every step of the way.
I don’t understand everything about the Old Testament story of God calling out these people as His chosen nation.
(I do believe that somehow everyone else had an opportunity to make the choice to follow Him at some point along the way.  I’m not sure if it was during their lifetime or after, but I can’t help but believe that a God of love and grace would allow anyone to live and die without the chance of knowing Him personally, but like I said, I don’t have all the answers.)
But as far as the Israelites go, I do know this:
They weren’t good enough to enter the Promised Land, but it was okay.
Somehow, God covered all their mistakes and shortcomings, even then, with His endless grace.
Later in his long talk, Moses gives the Israelites these commands:
“Fear the Lord, walk in all His ways, love Him, and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and observe the Lord’s commands and decrees..” (Deuteronomy 10)
 
Not an easy list to follow, but at least a kind-of litmus test to pass all their decisions and choices through.
Today, I’m fully aware that I will never be good enough for Heaven and that’s okay.
I’m also realizing more and more every day that the moment I feel like I am good enough to claim eternity with God as something I deserve is the day I will have a much more serious problem………….
that problem would be pride.
So, today, I’m embracing my weaknesses, my shortcomings, and my inability to live a perfect life.
I’m going to smile my way through this Monday knowing that on my own I am nothing and that in my own strength I am incredibly frail.
Thankful today for a God who promises to be my strength, my Deliverer, my everything.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
 II Cor. 12:10

 

If you’re searching for love on this Valentine’s Day, try this:
Quit waiting for love to arrive in ordinary, predictable ways.
Love may or may not show up in the form of gifts or cards,
but I promise you this – love is all around you.
It’s on the ground, in the air, under your feet, and so many other unexpected places.
I think one thing God plans to do when we get to Heaven is show us all the times we missed seeing love!
Open your eyes today, and you will find His love all around you!
Love can be found in puddles.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
………..in clouds.

…………………. in carpet strings

……………. in grilled chicken

…………….. in potato chips

………………… in vegetable soup 

and all kinds of other places.
I’m hoping you’ll find love today when you least expect it!
 Happy Valentine’s Day from my home to yours!
Visit my friend Salina’s blog (www.heartreflected.com) today and read the story of how God’s love transformed my broken heart.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

Proverbs 18:7
I love those who love me,
    and