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When God called Abraham to be the father of many nations,

ultimately leading to the birth of Jesus,

He surely knew this family tree was going to include some extremely thorny branches.

Jealousy

Murder

Deception

Lies

They all grew here.

Yet God chose not to chop it down.

He rooted His promise in Abraham and was faithful to His Word.

Abraham’s descendants would eventually include a man named Jesse who would become the father of David.

And David’s line of descendants would one day welcome a tiny baby in Bethlehem who would change the world forever.

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples;

the nations will rally to him,

and his resting place will be glorious.

Is. 11:10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 

Is. 11:1

His arrival would not only bring salvation to His own people but also to the rest of the world.

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

one who will arise to rule over the nations;

in him the Gentiles will hope.”

Romans 15:12

That’s why I can’t get bogged down in today’s reading,

because closing the Bible this morning would be hard if I didn’t know the rest of the story.

Seeing brothers murder a nation in the name of revenge

and then sell one of their own into slavery out of jealousy and hate doesn’t make for an uplifting start to a day.

It’s sad to think these are the kind of men whose bloodline led to Jesus.

Until I remember why Jesus showed up.

He came to save.

Redeem.

Offer Hope.

Be the ultimate sacrifice.

A perfect world wouldn’t have needed Him.

And a perfect family wouldn’t have needed Him either.

That’s why the birth of one little boy continues to be a birth worth celebrating.

For over 2000 years this planet has acknowledged that the arrival of Jesus changed history.

There were plenty of branches on Abraham’s family tree,

But He was the branch that would change every sprout to follow.

and redeem every branch that came before Him.

Simeon and Levi needed redemption after leading the way in the killing of the people in the city where Shechem lived.

Reuben needed redemption after sleeping with his father’s concubine.

All of Jacob’s sons needed redemption after plotting to kill Joseph.

So don’t worry this morning if your family isn’t perfect,

neither was the family that brought us Jesus.

Thankfully one family member spoke up in the desert.

Judah found another way to make his brothers happy.

Sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites.

That will get rid of him.

But it will also save him.

Did Judah realize he would be the one chosen to become the descendant ultimately leading to Jesus?

Joseph will save his people from starvation.

But Judah will be the one listed in the genealogy of our Savior.

Judah saved Joseph.

And ultimately saved us.

It must have taken a lot of nerve to stand up to a group of hate-filled brothers.

But I’m so glad Judah did.

Because my imperfect family needed Him just as much as Judah’s did.

snoopy adn sheep

 

I have to confess.

There was a small chapter of my life

when I watched “Days of Our Lives.”

I knew the plot line was shallow.

And I knew that in real life

dramatic conversations rarely end with someone sipping coffee while music plays them out of the scene.

But for whatever reason,

I felt the need to know what was happening in the lives of people like Marlena and Roman Brady…

and isn’t is sad that nearly 30 years later I can still remember a few of the character’s names?

Today’s Bible reading felt a lot like one of the episodes of this show I watched so many years ago.

Wives battling for their husbands attention by trying to have the most sons.

A father refusing to let his daughters move away.

A son-in-law planning their escape and then having his favorite wife steal one of her father’s false gods…..

and then sit on it and lie in order to save her life.

This was enough to fill a week of prime time,

but it wasn’t the end.

Laban and Jacob decide to build a memorial.

A mound of rocks as a testimony that God would watch over all of them as they went separate ways.

A calm filled the air.

Jacob was finally free from 20 years of working for his father-in-law who changed his wages ten different times,

taking advantage of Jacob’s strength and Jacob’s love for Laban’s daughters.

But not long into Jacob’s journey back to Canaan,

he must have remembered the reason he had fled years before.

Esau wanted him dead.

Jacob was a thief on the run,

and for 20 years he had been spared the anger of the one he had deceived.

In the same way I would probably act today,

Jacob sends messengers ahead of him with gifts.

Rows and rows of servants offering Esau peace offerings.

Softening the blow of their reunion.

Hoping to make peace with his sibling long before their eyes meet.

The night before they meet,

Jacob sends his family ahead of him and spends the night alone.

I’m not sure why.

But for whatever reason,

Jacob stays on the other side of the stream.

And God meets him there.

Not to comfort him,

but to wrestle with him.

Literally.

All through the night,

Jacob struggles with this man to the point of being injured yet refuses to let go.

In severe pain from a dislocated hip,

Jacob holds on tight,

refusing to release his grip on this heavenly visitor until he gets one thing…….

a blessing.

In that moment, the mystery man says,

“Your name will no longer be Jacob.  It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”

Genesis 32:28

Jacob stands up and begins to walk toward Esau,

limping with every step.

The music swells as these two brothers finally see each other face to face,

and I have to believe Esau felt some pity for his younger brother as he saw him struggling to walk,

tired and frightened.

Esau runs to him.

Throws his arms around him.

And kisses him.

And then they both begin to weep.

There’s no soap opera that could top this morning’s reading.

No movie that could hold my attention the way these chapters did.

But when I try to pull out a lesson,

an over-riding message,

I fall short.

There are so many big moments on these pages.

So many characters facing personal drama.

Leah, the second-favorite wife, who finds her only significance in the sons she bears.

Rachel, a thief and liar, who has just what it takes to keep Jacob’s heart captivated.

Laban, a controlling father who finds it difficult to let his girls go.

Jacob, the son of Isaac who knows he tricked his way into his inheritance…..and his blessing.

No wonder he wrestles for a new one.

The first one came way too easy.

And his limp will forever remind him.

Esau, the brother who didn’t seem to appreciate his birth order…

and was eventually cheated out of it.

But also the brother who was forced to face Rebekah every day

after her favorite son went into hiding to save his life.

Surely Esau’s life was filled with tension just as Jacob’s was.

No one got out of this story easy.

And honestly, none of us do either.

We all have moments when we fill second place in the eyes of someone we love.

We all have moments when we make hasty decisions

and then have the choice of fessing up to our mistakes or sitting on them in hopes of keeping them out of sight.

We all have people or things we hold on too tightly.

Only letting go when we have no other option.

We’ve all had nights where we wrestle with life.

If we’ve lived long enough,

we all have something that has forever caused us to limp.

And I’m sure we all have someone we need to forgive.

This morning I saw myself in every character……

once again.

And maybe that’s what it’s all about as I read the Bible from beginning to end.

Seeing my life played out through the lives of others

and realizing God was right there.

In the midst of it all.

Just like He is today.

“Have I not commanded you?

strong and courageous.

Do not be frightened,

and do not be dismayed,

for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

 

fogtwo

The Thing About Covenants

January 14th, 2019

 

Since the beginning of time,

God has been in the covenant-making business.

Working with imperfect people to complete a perfect plan.

He started in a garden.

With a couple who for all practical purposes “had it made.”

But still went looking.

Wanting more.

Stepping over the one little line God had drawn in the middle of endless beauty.

And forever loosening the perfect bond they had with their Creator.

Time passed.

The bond became looser.

And eventually, the connection between God and man had nearly broken.

No longer were men turning to Him for a relationship, for help, for companionship.

They needed something to hold, to see, to worship.

So false gods became the norm.

Noah was different.

In the middle of an evil world, He still turned to God.

If something didn’t change,

the human race would quickly destroy itself

with greed, envy, lust, and all sorts of other wickedness.

With a broken heart,

God made a plan.

And after the flood,

He made a covenant.

“Never again will I destroy the world by water.”

Time passed and people quickly forgot the One who was able to create and also destroy.

Humanity proved to have short-term memory loss.

And God needed a way to connect with man that involved reminders.

Rituals.

Routines.

He had to reintroduce Himself by calling out a group of people who would continue reintroducing Him generation after generation.

A family line that would be set apart.

Chosen.

Holy.

Willing.

I’m not sure what was included on the list of qualifications for this particular calling,

but Abraham must have had enough of them.

Or at least been the closest candidate available at this time in history.

So God reached out.

It’s almost as if He created the classic relationship starter……..

Will you follow me?

Circle “yes” or “no.”

God never forced the world to love Him.

And that’s one thing that’s never changed.

So the covenant relationship began.

And God proved that when He makes a promise,

He keeps it.

Time and time again,

this covenant people fell short.

Strayed off the path.

Tried to take charge.

And time and time again,

God was patient.

Forgiving.

His cast of covenant-bonded people was no different than the Ones He works with today.

Abraham lied.

Sarah doubted.

Isaac proved the saying “Like father, like son.”

Rebekah manipulated.

Jacob deceived.

And Rachel and Leah will soon join this list with their own set of imperfections.

But God never gave up.

He persistently pursued the ones He had chosen.

Making a way even when the chosen got in the way.

Perfect love was trying to break through to an imperfect world.

It would be a while, though, before this broken planet was ready for Perfect Love to show up.

Be seen.

Be held.

And worshiped.

When I was nine, God ask me the same question.

Will you follow me?  Circle “yes” or “no.”

I didn’t hear His voice or see a burning bush.

I just heard a sermon.

And felt the nudge to walk down the aisle.

And say, “yes.”

Make a covenant of my own with the very same God who spoke the world into being…..and has tried to be heard by it ever since.

I’ve fallen short many times along the way.

But I’m so thankful for a God who also wants to be my Father, Savior, Protector, Redeemer, and Friend…..

no matter what.

Just like the men and women in the Old Testament story,

when I circled, “yes,”

I made a covenant with God.

And my life forever changed.

That’s the thing about covenants I love.

Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you,

I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

 Is. 41;10

family christmas

 

I’ll wonder every time.

Did God’s plan include Rebekah’s decision to trick Isaac?

To have Jacob lie to his own dad?

In Old Testament times, the blessing of a father could not be revoked once spoken.

Rebekah surely knew this.

Isaac surely knew this too.

But they moved forward anyway.

Came up with a scheme to steal Esau’s firstborn rights.

And succeeded.

Years before, God had clearly been involved in the choosing of Rebekah as Isaac’s wife.

Abraham sent his servant on a mission.

And the instructions were very clear.

 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. ” (Gen. 24:-7-8)

Rebekah was more than willing to go.

And eventually became pregnant with twins.

The pregnancy was not easy, though.

Scripture says they “jostled within her womb.”

Rebekah must have had a personal relationship with God.

She wasn’t afraid to ask Him what was going on.

And He was more than willing to reply,

“Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples will be separated from within you.

One people will be stronger than the other,

and the older will serve the younger.”

Gen. 25:23

Had this prophecy haunted her?

Did she dwell on it until the day of their arrival?

I know I would have.

The mystery of those words had to make her watch closely as her baby boys entered the world…….

One at a time.

Esau came first.

Jacob followed, holding tightly to his heel.

Could this be another sign?

Was this grasping of his brother’s foot a way for Rebekah to see with her own eyes that Jacob was the rightful heir?

And did God let her in on all of this so she could make this happen?

Take things into her own hands “in the name of God” Himself.

Do whatever it took to put Jacob on top.

The younger son with all the rights.

I don’t think so.

I would stumble through the rest of Biblical history if I thought this was His plan.

No.

I believe Rebekah panicked.

I think God had everything under control.

And Rebekah just forgot.

He already knew Esau was unable to lead His people.

Who sells their birthright for a bowl of soup?

Wouldn’t he sell his father’s blessing, too, if he were offered even more?

But Rebekah, just like me,

couldn’t sit back and let things unfold in God’s time.

She stepped in.

Took action.

Spoke words.

And directed the steps of others.

All in the name of “God’s will.”

I needed this message this weekend.

Stepping away from the real world for 48 hours has been good for me.

I’ve come close to being Rebekah this week.

Several times.

Not in a deceptive way.

But in a “this is what God would want for my child” way.

I’m so thankful for the Bible.

And the fact that God wasn’t afraid to share the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of Christian history.

Jacob didn’t have an easy life.

Was this a result of his mother’s desire to “make things right” by stepping in to a plan God had not yet set in motion?

Or a result of his own desire to have what God had promised…..

but long before God had said,

“It’s yours.”

Today, I’m asking God to help me step back.

Wait.

Pray.

And trust Him.

He has a plan.

And more times than I’d like to admit,

it doesn’t involve me.

grey matters bracelet

 

How often did Abraham retell his story?

Sitting by the gate of the city

(or wherever men gathered to chat in Old Testament times),

he surely rehashed the details time and time again.

An elderly couple

A promised son

And a God who asked for that very son to be sacrificed on an altar

It’s a story that would make headlines today.

And I have to believe the details of that particular experience

replayed in Abraham and Isaac’s heads

the rest of their lives.

______________________________

At 5 a.m. this morning, I read the details of this story in Genesis 22…….

and then left for the airport.

It’s a section of the Bible that gets me every time.

Because I remember God asking me to do a very similar thing.

“Lay down your son, Tammy.

Trust me with him.”

I had hoped I would have WiFi

while waiting for my flight.

But God has a way of pushing pause on our plans

when He needs more time to finish His.

_______________________________

As I stood in line to load the plane,

I had no idea the story of Isaac

would forever come to mind when I remembered this moment

at a very different kind of gate.

I turned to talk to the two young ladies behind me while we waited.

And quickly learned one of them was flying for the very first time.

I wished her well as we boarded and then headed for a window seat.

It’s been a long week,

and I planned to take a nice nap on the way to meet Tim.

Within seconds, though, I heard one of the girls

call from the other side of the aisle,

“You can sit with us!!”

I laughed and said,

“I won’t be much company. I’ll probably fall to sleep!”

But she quickly replied,

“I have a shoulder if you do!”

How could I say, “No?”

As the flight began,

so did the small talk.

And the selfies. 🙂

Occasionally I closed my eyes,

but the energy of these girls was something no one

would want to miss.

Time passed and the casual conversation turned to deeper things.

Before we knew it,

our phones were out and we were sharing pics of family members.

I still can’t introduce my children without including Adrienne and Nick,

so I briefly told of how SIDS and brain cancer were part of our family’s story.

As I shared about Nick,

the spunky girl sitting next to me,

began to cry.

Last month she lost a dear friend to the very same disease.

She shared his story with passion

and as she talked, I noticed her bracelet.

“Grey Matters”

She wore her brain cancer story for the world to see…..

right on her wrist.

And now she was sharing it with me.

She cried as she talked about this friend’s father

and how he has questioned God ever since his son passed away.

Who doesn’t question God at times like this?

As the flight continued,

she moved to the story of her own father.

Years ago he was seriously injured

when a co-worker backed a vehicle off the assembly line…….

and right over him.

Crushing bones all along the way.

Tears ran down her face as she told about her dad seeing this accident as a wake-up call.

At one point she said,  “My dad told me he needed that truck.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I’ve needed one too.

Something to stop me.

Slow me down.

Get my attention.

Remind me of what truly matters.

One story led to another and by the time the two-hour fight ended,

we were friends for life.

The shoulder we both needed this morning was definitely not for sleeping.

In so many different ways,

today has “flown” by.

I’m in our room at Tim’s conference,

and I’m finally able to process all that has happened since I read Genesis 20-23 over twelve hours ago.

I’ve read the story of Abraham and Isaac so many times.

A father who was asked to give up his son.

A father who surely questioned God along the way.

And a father who shared the story of his wake-up call over and over again so others could be woken up too.

I’ve read this Old Testament story so many times,

but this morning I lived it.

___________________________________________

Forever thankful for the way God intersects lives………

in the most unexpected ways.

For very specific reasons

at the most perfect times.

And humbly aware that a story can’t truly be told until God writes it.

snow bush

 

I knew it would happen eventually.

I knew a morning would come

when I would read the Bible

with other things pressing on my heart

with such force that every Word seemed tainted.

Circumcision.

Angels visiting Abraham.

Abraham questioning their message.

And Sarah laughing at it.

Cries against Sodom and Gomorrah being heard by God.

Abraham bargaining with God in order to save his family.

Lot hesitating when told to run from the city.

Angels grabbing his hand to pull him and his family from the destruction.

Lot’s wife looking back after being told not to.

Then becoming a pillar of salt.

And Lot’s daughters choosing a very disturbing way to carry on their family name.

Genesis 17 through 19 had very few verses lacking intense drama.

Verse after verse revealed the truth.

Humans are hard to work with.

Is today any different?

God still has the same desires.

Set us apart.

Fulfill His work through us.

Save us from destruction.

The cycle goes on and on.

Yet I’m so good at keeping the wheel of imperfect humanity spinning.

Doubting.

Laughing.

Denying.

Hesitating.

Looking back.

Taking matters into my own hands.

I’m Abraham

And Sarah

And Lot

And his wife

And even Lot’s daughters.

All rolled into one.

Would the Bible read any differently if it contained my behind-the-scenes thoughts and actions?

Would it read any differently if it contained yours?

Isn’t it easy to write a great story

when we’re the one holding the pen

or clicking away at the keyboard

or posting the pics?

But what if we handed the power to someone else?

What would the world see?

I know what they would see in my life….

and it’s not always pretty.

I get hurt

and disappointed

and frustrated

and even angry.

I say too much

or not enough.

I question.

Doubt.

Hesitate.

Look back.

And way too often take things into my own hands.

I’m the Old Testament story…….

all by myself.

So this morning as my mind is swirling and my heart is beating a little harder than I’d like it to be at this hour of the morning,

I’m thankful for a God who sent angels to warn and even grab hands.

I’m thankful for a Father who chose to use imperfect people

to fulfill a perfect plan.

Scripture promises that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So I know He’s doing the very same thing today.

Whispering gentle warnings.

Pulling me out of harm’s way.

Using me in spite of myself.

That’s how God worked in the beginning.

And I’m so glad it’s how He works today.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,

for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,

so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

II Cor. 12:9

bible

He Knows Just What You Need

January 9th, 2019

 

I can’t imagine living in the days of the Old Testament.

In our world of “rights” and “freedom,”

it’s difficult to read stories like the one of Hagar.

I’m not sure how she became part of Abram and Sarai’s story,

but here she is.

An Egyptian slave with no voice,

caught up in the drama of a couple who has been promised a son.

But decides to take the promise into their own hands.

Turning to the ways of the ancient world,

they do what many in their time did when a wife seemed infertile.

They made their own way for a child to enter their family.

And that way involved Hagar.

Time passes though.

And time has a way of making us second guess the very best of ideas.

Sarai gets jealous of the very woman she has placed in her husband’s hands.

And Hagar feels so desperate for safety

that she runs away.

I’m sure she cried out as she ran.

In a world where no one seemed to hear her voice,

did she truly believe someone was listening?

Her voice reached Heaven whether she believed it would or not.

And God appears on the scene….

And delivers a message we all long to hear,

“The Lord has heard your cry.”

He follows this powerful sentence with a form of confirmation she’ll never be able to forget.

He says,

“You will call him Ishmael.”

Having your child named by God had to feel incredibly special.

Realizing the name means “God hears” must have brought her to her knees.

Don’t we all want that reminder?

Every time she looked at her son or heard his name,

she would be reminded.

God hears me.

What could Hagar do in this moment to repay God for His mercy?

I love that she felt compelled to return the same kind of message to God

by also naming Him.

“So she named the Lord who spoke to her.”

“You are El-roi,” for she said,

“In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?”

El-Roi, The God Who Sees Me.

And the God who heard her and saw her said,

“Go back home.  I will greatly multiply your offspring.”

The story of Abram is all about God’s covenant with His people.

A promise to be with them every step of the way.

But I love that Hagar received the same blessing.

I hear you.

I see you.

No matter where you feel you may be in your relationship with God today,

He’s right there.

Listening.

Watching.

And calling you home.

sheep and sign

 

In Genesis 12,

God calls Abram.

And off Abram goes.

His wife and nephew go too.

There’s not a lot of details added to this story.

And in these moments, I find myself asking all kinds of questions.

Did Sarai want to go?

Did Lot have a choice?

Lot’s father had died, but where was his mom?

God must feel a lot like Tim feels when he watches a movie with me.

I can almost hear God saying,

“Shhhhh……Just keep reading.”

 I have to believe the answers aren’t here

because they wouldn’t change the purpose of this part of history.

And the purpose is simple.

“God speaks and those who love Him listen.”

When Abram and his family arrive at the place God will eventually make theirs,

Abram builds an altar.

Wasn’t this a common occurrence at this time in history?

Weren’t even false gods shown reverence in this way?

Maybe the building of the altar isn’t as important as the One he chose to build the altar for.

Abram knows Who brought him to this place.

He had heard his voice.

And Abram’s altar is built for Him and Him alone.

The God who speaks.

That’s the One he chooses to worship.

_________________________

Am I any different today?

I still build altars.

Place my focus on something.

Or someone.

But isn’t it usually the voice that is loudest that grabs my attention?

Maybe that’s why God often seems to whisper.

He’s rarely demanding.

Wanting me to choose for myself the direction of my ear.

And be still enough to hear Him.

And remember.

He’s the one who brought me here.

To this place.

To this day.

_____________________________

Abram wants to remember Who is leading him and his family too.

Along the way, He stops to build other altars.

Places where he pauses to call on the name of the Lord.

________________________________

What if every time I prayed,

I could envision the building of a structure –

aimed at Heaven.

And the sacrifice would be me.

My time.

My energy.

My thoughts.

_______________________

As the story moves along,

Abram finds himself in a famine

that pushes him away from the land of his altars.

It’s no surprise that the further he travels from his physical reminders of God’s presence,

the further he seems from God’s will.

He lies.

He compromises his marriage.

And eventually he gives his nephew a choice……

choose right or choose left.

Does he talk any of these decisions over with the One who had sent him on this journey?

Does he ever pause to build an altar when food seems scarce?

Or when resources begin to overflow in overwhelming amounts?

__________________________

Am I any different today?

Acting quickly in times of desperation.

And independently in times of abundance.

Justifying every decision along the way.

________________________________

Am I any different today?

This is the question I found myself asking over and over again this morning.

So when Lot chose to pitch his tent near Sodom,

no wonder I winced.

I can easily see what Lot doesn’t yet know.

His tent is near danger.

How many times do I pitch my own tent without considering the cost?

 Do not be deceived: 

“Evil company corrupts good habits.”

I Cor. 15:33

No matter how I feel about the coming destruction of this city,

it’s going to happen.

And unless I want to remove chapters from the Bible

or ignore Scripture completely,

I have to admit that God’s patience has a limit.

And pitching my tent near anything that will push Him too far is risky.

So what will I do with my reading this morning?

Will I build more altars to the One who brought me here?

And pitch my tents closer to Him too?

I hope so.

Thousand of years have passed since Abram walked on the earth,

but very little has changed.

God still speaks.

Altars are still built.

Tents are still pitched.

Life still marches on.

And the choices we make are still up to us.

Lord, my Hope is in you.

Ps. 39:7

Help my actions prove my words.

And show Your faithfulness.

your story sign

Your Story Matters

January 7th, 2019

 

As 2019 began, I didn’t write down any definite resolutions for the year.

I had a few goals in my mind, but they never made it to paper.

Strangely enough, my biggest goal was to start writing consistently again.

The past two and a half years have been a struggle for me.

I can’t pinpoint one specific reason for the struggle,

but I can definitely think of several situations that caused writing to become challenging for me.

Moments when time stopped but life had to keep moving.

Times when I cried but the reason for the tears couldn’t be shared in a public forum.

Personal hurt.

Decisions made by others impacting my family in ways I wished I had the power to change.

It’s difficult for me to write when I have to write around my emotions instead of through them.

It’s difficult for me to write when I feel misunderstood, bewildered, or angry.

Choosing to regain a sense of commitment to my blog was scary for me.

Because I knew there would be days when I felt emotions too complex to share.

And moments when the surface of my heart was damaged by words or actions of others.

And choosing to write would require going deeper than that pain for the source of my words.

Because of this, I considered being finished.

Aren’t there enough words in the world already?

And if not, aren’t there enough people still longing to share theirs?

Won’t life go on even if my blog stops?

I had to answer these questions before I could type my first word of this new year.

And here’s what I learned as I did.

 There are probably enough written words in the world to carry us through time.

And if for some reason there aren’t,

there are definitely enough people already writing to fulfill this need.

And life would most definitely go on without any new words written by me.

________________________________________

So I wrestled with myself.

Why couldn’t I let it go?

I finally answered that question too.

But the answered required three words I’ve always struggled to say together………

I’m a writer.

Words release something inside of me nothing else can.

But I wanted something to guide me this year other than my emotional state.

I’m learning my emotions are as unsteady as the sea,

and choppy water can make the strongest stomach grow weak.

God reminded me of the reason I first started blogging.

To share my heart through His words.

So I decided to combine my daily Bible reading with my writing

and see what happened.

So here I am.

January 7th.

And my new Bible (The Day-by-Day Chronological Bible) takes one day off a week for some notes by the author.

And today his notes summarized what’s going to happen in the next few weeks to come.

Moses, Elijah, Esther, and many other key figures from the Old Testament are going to take the stage.

As if life were a play, they will enter.

Perform.

Then exit right.

____________________________________

Isn’t that what we all do when our life story begins?

For however many years God chooses,

we get our chance to join His production.

Decision after decision keeps us interacting with the rest of the members of “the play”

in ways that shape and mold the bigger story

for the members who take the stage after us.

Just as Moses, David, and Esther changed the world around them,

our existence changes the world around us too.

And that’s where I think the enemy begins his daily work.

He tried to convince Moses he wasn’t good enough

and David he wasn’t strong enough

and Esther she wasn’t powerful enough

to make a difference.

But they took the stage anyway.

And look what happened.

What is he trying to convince you to believe today?

What negative words is he whispering in your ear?

For me, it was, “Just quit writing.  You story doesn’t matter anymore.”

Is God calling you to write, to speak, to teach, to enter the medical field, to travel to a foreign land, to take pictures, to make a difficult phone call, to open a business, to apply for a certain job, to forgive, to hold on tight, to keep a promise?

What is it you’re running from this morning?

Never underestimate the power of your story.

Day by day.

Minute by minute.

Your story matters.

How different would today look if you envisioned yourself center stage as the sun rose and the curtain opened?

If you truly believed you were the main character of your life story?

And the Author was the Creator of the Universe?

There are 358 days left in 2019.

I’m determined to write something on each of them.

Leave a little mark on history.

And let God do the rest.

What mark will you leave today?

It doesn’t have to be big to be significant.

Just walk in His footsteps and you will lead everyone around you in the right direction.

And that’s all that matters in the end, isn’t it?

That we exit right…….

into His arms.

Praying for you all today and wishing my sweet Olivia a very happy 21st birthday.

My birthday wish for her is a day filled with moments when she gets to see

just as how much her story matters

to me and to those around her.

For we are God’s handiwork, 

created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

foot rocks loves

 

I’ve read it before.

“Haran died in the presence of his father Terah.”

This phrase isn’t used very often in the Bible.

And it grabbed my heart this morning,

because Nick died in my presence too…………….

and in the presence of his father, brothers, and many other family members and friends.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday.

His 36 hours of unstoppable sleep suddenly began to change.

We knew God was calling him home.

We gathered around him.

And he began to hum

The room was filled with an energy I had never felt before and have never felt again.

And when he took his last breath,

the energy vanished just as suddenly from our presence as he did.

Several hours later,

Olivia, just 10 years old at the time,

returned from a friend’s to find Nick gone.

The horror of the unfolding of that day has been refolded

and tucked into my heart…….

forever.

And very little has changed about that room

or our lives as his parents

since that day ten years ago.

This morning as I read about Terah’s loss,

I was taken back to that morning.

I was moved by the fact that Genesis goes on to say,

Terah was headed to Canaan.

A country also referred to as “the fertile crescent”

 “a long strip of land curving around like an arc or bowl, where the soil was very rich and fertile and there was plenty of water.”

.https://www.bible-history.com/geography/fertile_crescent.html

Terah was on his way to what would eventually become The Promised Land,

but when he came to Haran he stopped and settled in.

Stuck.

Frozen.

No longer wanting to move.

I’m not sure if God told him to move to Canaan

like he eventually would his son Abram,

but for some reason this destination was his goal.

And along the way,

he changed his mind.

The death of his son Haran

followed by his desire to settle in Haran

spoke to me this morning.

Have my husband and I settled in the land of the death of our son…..

and the land of our daughter’s death years before?

Has life in some way been on hold as we’ve grieved.

It’s been nearly twenty-seven years since Adrienne went home.

A little over ten since Nick followed her there.

In God’s way of looking at time,

this is only minutes

as to Him a thousand years is like a day.

What is He saying to me this morning?

Is He challenging me to release my grip

on a location or a mindset or a way of living?

Is He challenging all who grieve not to miss the next thing

for fear of losing the memory of what they’ve been forced to lose physically.

________________________________

Yesterday, I unexpectedly cried in a food court.

Working behind the counter with his mom,

a little boy had Nick’s brown eyes.

He had his demeanor.

He had his gentle voice.

And he handed one tiny penny to my friend as her only change.

At the very same time, I noticed artwork hanging in their little service area

Artwork that looked so much like something Nick would have drawn.

And if there was one thing Nick loved other than football,

it was drawing.

I held it together until we sat down

and as I began to speak,

I could feel the tears I had been fighting to hold back

slowly begin to slip out and run down my cheeks.

Grief ambushed me yesterday in a town far from our own.

I still miss him.

I forever will.

Yesterday I realized grief doesn’t need a location to be real.

It just needs my heart.

I will carry Adrienne and Nick with me wherever I go.

And this morning,

God is gently whispering,

“You can only carry someone when you’re moving.”

I don’t know what that means.

But I do know this.

I may not be young,

but I’m too young to settle for anything less than what God longs for me to be or do.

So is Tim.

I don’t want us to die on the way to where He has us going.

Yes, grief is hard.

But allowing grief to limit

the depths of purpose

our one life on this planet

is able to hold

is even harder.

How has grief affected you?

Are you stuck?

Frozen?

Unable to take the next step?

If so, you’re not alone.

Grief stops us all for a season,

and I believe it should.

But I also believe a day comes when you wake up

and say,

“Grief, I’m moving forward……..

and like it or not,

you’re coming with me.

I’m no longer being held in your grip.”

Don’t miss the fertile crescent before you by settling in Haran.

As all of us know who have lost someone we love,

life is too short for that kind of short-sighted living.

“Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot.  Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.  Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.  The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.”
Genesis 11:27-28, 31-32

Don’t be afraid to carry your grief wherever God asks you to go or in whatever God asks you to do.