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Rest in Your Story….

“So my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving

and some coming home, some summer and some winter.”

 Donald Millerwk13_heart_mission-270x200

This morning I felt rather weepy, not sure exactly why. Was it hormones? Was it being in the midst of uncertainty? Was it the feeling of aloneness? Fear? Anxiety?

Was it one thing, or all of them? When I permitted myself a moment to dig a bit deeper, allowing myself to sit with my pain and face the fears, I heard His voice calling….I sensed Him walking towards me….and instead of running from all the uncertainty and unanswered questions which exposed the discomfort, it was in that moment when I chose to move towards them.

And then I checked my emails. What a gift when I received this post from one of my favorite authors, Bonnie Grey….she is a woman who speaks my language, who shares from an honest heart, a place where few dare to go. Her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace helped to me to heal and learn how to take time to rest.

I am sharing a link at the bottom of this post, I hope you take the time to read it….let it encourage your heart today as it did mine.

As Bonnie says: “Our stories can rest in the open with him. Jesus doesn’t tell us to fix it. Get over it. He accepts our pain. He honors our brokenness. He says—

I want that. What nobody else wants. What nobody values.

Your story.

I love the real you.

I have called you by name. You are mine (Isa. 43:1).

I will carry you (46:4).

different from the voices that have hurt and deserted us.”

writing

To know that our stories are safe with Him…that He wants to hear them…. and that He accepts us just as we are, brings peace, comfort and even joy amidst the pain of our story.

http://www.faithbarista.com/2015/04/let-go-of-your-script-follow-gods-voice-instead/

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Safety in the hiding place of grace….

I haven’t written for a while and I admit that I’ve missed being here. In the last couple of months it feels like I’ve been on a journey with God as I faced myself; truly faced some things about myself….my agendas, my weaknesses,  my flaws and my longings.

Working through the book, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting go of the try hard life by Emily P. Freeman, as well as the book, Truefaced: Trusting God and others, with who you really are by Bill Thrall, John Lynch, and Bill McNicol, has certainly not been easy, but it has been healing and freeing as I’ve been throwing off the yoke of pretending, and of learning to forgive myself.
Through these books God once again stripped away something within me….and I believe He is using these authors to strip away something within all of us who long for more……and I also believe that our Father God is blowing upon His children in this hour, with a gentle, yet powerful wind. He is breathing life into us…. and as He blows, the false perceptions concerning our identity, which we have received from the enemy, the church, and even ourselves, will be removed, and we will stand as His mighty servants….His warriors.

As my heavenly Father continues to strip away all that causes me to hide from Him and others, He offers me safety in the hiding place of grace!
And so, in the safety of His grace I have faced my self-protecting ways, my tendency to try and please God rather than trust Him, attempting to live a life of perfection and failing, the fear of making a mistake and looking foolish, and the hiding, not wanting others to see my weaknesses and flaws……but I get so weary of the striving, of beating myself up, of never cutting myself any slack….of paying penance….and I don’t think I am alone in this….God used the authors I mentioned earlier to expose another layer of self-protection and in its place I experienced the wild grace of God….

A friend shared with me a post from the Truefaced blog that was so very timely. With permission from John Lynch I am sharing this very powerful and freeing post.….

Please be sure and visit their blog….you will be blessed and experience much freedom as you journey into the room of grace.( www.truefaced.com/blog)

The Haunting Question

We’ve been spending the last few times together talking about forgiveness. But before we get to the good news-the way home, let me first address this haunting question being asked by many of you:

“What about the forgiveness I can’t give myself? How do I forgive myself?”

Bill and Bruce would do this much better, but they’re probably on some Polynesian island with friends, drinking fun concoctions from the shells of coconuts. So, today I’m all you’ve got.

Ready?

To forgive myself demands I not only trust the shed blood of Jesus to completely purchase my salvation with God in heaven. I must be absolutely convinced it allows Him to never be disgusted with me while I am maturing into who He says I now am. He says I am righteous even though I often don’t yet behave like it. He says I am holy though I surprise even myself with the outlandishness of my selfishness. He says I am absolutely and completely beloved. He is actually unable to love me more and refuses to allow anything I do to cause Him to love me less.

It is stunningly and overwhelming shattering to face that He saw every single betrayal, obsessive repetition of failure, and my repeated hurting of those I most love long before I performed them. And having seen even the degradation I’ve not had a chance to yet act out, He said, “Yes, that one. That’s the one I want to bestow all my love upon. All of it. Uniquely, particularly and with as much unbridled love as I have for my only begotten Son.”

And now, what delights Him most is that I’d just believe it. Not perform penance for Him. Not beat myself up to prove I mean business. Not take the all-forgiving nature of that love as a reason to carry disgust for myself when I fail. Not degrade myself before Him under the self-disdaining groan of “What’s wrong with me? I should be better by now. What a loser!” Those words no longer fit; not for one now literally fused in nature with the God of the universe.

It’s hard to conceive that the very power over the next failure you will not want to not forgive yourself for, is found completely in trusting the power of this scandalous, outlandish, stunning love. Trusting God with my sin, allowing His solution, is the entire basis for releasing the redemptive power of the Cross. Period.

The only thing I might want to be upset at myself for is refusing to take this gift. For me to somehow imagine that I “should be…if I were any kind of Christian”, diminishes the sacred purpose of the cross and thinks far too highly of myself.

It is a choice of humility that says, “I’ve played judge and jury far too long. I’m weary of it. You alone have authority to judge and prosecute. I’ve been dragging around what has never been mine to carry. I’m done fighting this one by myself, foolishly imagining You don’t care enough or have the power to redeem every one of these failures. Either You are God and can fully vindicate, validate, redeem, protect, exonerate, defend, make me blameless, or this whole thing has been a cheap carnival magic show. I’m done with the trite contention that I’m just too failed to be forgiven by You or myself. I’m done demeaning what you did for me. Forgive me for this arrogance most of all my dear God.”

When Paul says in Romans 8 that no one gets to bring a charge, condemn, or separate us from every fiber of His unfathomable love, included in that “no one” is us!!

This all sounds good and well-until you do the one thing you thought you’d never do. The really big one. The one God lovers don’t do. That’s when we may have to go through that dark night of the soul to discover whether we’re convinced the shed blood was that powerful.

No, this does not excuse my sin. Yes, I will need to make things right with those I’ve wronged. Yes, I will need face the reality of what I’ve done, along with the consequences. But there are two things I must not do:

*Refuse His complete, absolute forgiveness and unchanging assessment, love and affection.

*Refuse to accept His complete acceptance, fellowship and delight after what I’ve done.

 

For these, as noble or pious as they might sound, actually deny the efficacy of what Christ did for us.

He has no need of such rehearsal of shame. That day is over. You are free. You are right on time. You are deeply, always precious and front row with Him. And this new life within you will never want to take advantage of it, given the chance to live in it. This magical, all encompassing love, when risked and trusted, forms the basis for real, beautiful, stunned worship.

The Cross was that powerful, your God that incredible.

John-one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace

Fellow strugglers, thank you for journeying with me….. He is calling us deeper, and invites us to journey with Him and experience His wild grace…..and His gentle voice to us today says this:
“Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me, See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Sol. 2:10-13)

 
 

This Christmas season I will light a candle….

All too often it is at the holiday season WHEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT COLLIDE. Whether through loss, divorce or estrangement we try to capture what we once had or we try and blot out bad memories. We try to ignore the empty chair and we try to ignore the pain and emptiness in our soul.

While most of the world seems to be addressing holiday greeting cards and planning holiday menus, those who have lost someone or a relationship are struggling with other concerns: How long does the grief last? Will the holidays always be this dreadful? What do we do with the empty place at the table? What is there to be thankful for this year?

 It’s difficult to get that place in our hearts when we can admit that nothing seems quite right in our house or in our heart this season. We may ask ourselves if we can ever be happy again? Will the sights and sounds of the holiday season ever touch us again? Will there ever be LIGHT again?

Maybe we hold our breath and hope the holidays go quickly. We doubt we can endure too long. We sit in the dark, because we think we have forgotten the light.

We wish for some sign of hope in the season of icicles, some magical sign that will keep us going until the warmth of spring arrives. We turn on all the lights in an attempt to chase away the pain, grief or loneliness.

We have EXPECTATIONS of the season, for each other and for ourselves. All too often we have a mental picture of how things ought to be. And perhaps all too often we have to admit that those expectations are based more on fantasy than reality. Or perhaps we measure success and happiness on how close we come to those expectations.

Handling the holidays may not be so much a question of how to eliminate pain and grief from our lives, but how we can learn to live with the hurt and grief rather than be consumed by it.

Yes, celebration is the theme of this season, and real life, with all its blemishes and pains, is brushed away into the dark corners of silence. However, if we chose to peek into the shadows, we will see the harsh realities that exist and are even magnified during the Christmas season. All too often the desired “peace on Earth” is disrupted by intrusive circumstances such as difficult family members, the death of a loved one, financial strain, isolation, and loneliness.

And if we ignore those visited by such unwelcome strangers is to fail in living out the very spirit of this sacred season.

And so today, as your sister in Christ, I desire to be present with you and to listen to your hearts, and to pray with you. Although I haven’t all the answers I can go to the One who does, the One who offers hope and healing.

Today I will light a candle, and as I do I will send up a prayer…..lighting a candle is a way of remembering, a way of healing, and a way of bringing hope.

A solitary candle brings light to the darkness and serves as a reminder of the power of the human spirit. The flickering flame ignites something deep inside us that connects us to each other.

As Erasmus noted; if we give light, and share light we can watch the darkness disappear.

 Lighting a candle begins by taking a moment to slow down, to focus on our intention and decide on the reason we are lighting our candle.

I invite you to light one with me, either for yourself or for those who are struggling this Christmas season…. light a candle to remember a loved one, a past relationship, or whatever other significant loss or losses that you or someone may currently be experiencing.

There is a soothing, healing effect in lighting a candle. A solitary candle brings light in the darkness; it is also a symbol of the human spirit.

The hope is that when we light a candle, it’s a reminder that Christ is alive and is the light of the world. And as we sing the Christmas carols it’s a reminder that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, not because we have to be cheery and merry, but because we don’t. God still comes to be with us. It’s OK to acknowledge loss and sadness. That’s why Jesus came – for the lonely. He came to minister to people who are hurting.

I am reminded of the words to a song by Kathy Troccoli-Go Light Your Candle;

We are a family, who hearts are blazing

So let’s raise our candles light up the sky

Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus,

Make us a beacon in darkest time

Prayer for our marriages…..

Father God, this day we choose to lay our lives and our marriages before You to receive Your healing touch. I ask that You would keep our hearts soft toward each other and not allow any hurt to build to anger.

I ask that You make the changes in us necessary to be the husbands and wives You have designed us to be for our spouses and we release them to You that You should change them only as You will.

I pray Lord that you will protect our mind and our hearts from the lies of the enemy and fill us Heavenly Father with Your Holy Spirit. I ask you Holy Spirit to come and remove the lies that have taken root and I ask that you will plant in their place Your truth and Your love. Father, build in us a restored and new love that can never die…. for what You create will remain forever.

Father I ask You to make us tools of reconciliation. Enable us to communicate well and rescue us from the threshold of separation where the realities of divorce begin.
Father God, if love seems to have vanished then I also pray that You would speak to those hearts and souls and remind them of the love that they once knew for each other, let them rediscover that love and build in them a new and stronger love.

Father, deliver us from the bondage of past mistakes. Take away anyone and anything that would inspire temptation for our spouse.

Change in us our habits of indifference and busyness that we may not take each other for granted. I know Father God that only the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can make changes that last. I trust You to transform us and make us the husband and wife You have called us to be.

Father bring into our  lives Godly friends that they might openly share their hearts. May they be trustworthy people of wisdom who will speak truth into our lives and not just say what we want to hear.

I pray that we, as well as our spouses, will listen to Godly counselors and not be a people who are unteachable. Give each of us the strength to reject the counsel of the ungodly and hear Your voice above all others. Instruct us and our spouses even as we sleep and in the morning I pray we will do what is right rather than follow the leading of own flesh.

Father I ask that you would protect our marriages from the things and evil spirits that would destroy it.

Shield it from our own selfishness and neglect and heal the wounds that have been inflicted by such.

Shield us from the evil plans and desires of others. Set us free Father from the past hurts and ties of things that have happened outside of the marriage You designed.
I pray Father that you would convict each of us, as well as our spouses, of any error in our lives. Let there be nothing covered that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known. Cleanse us from any secret sins and teach us to be a person who is quick to confess when they are wrong. Bring all of us to full repentance before You.

 If there is suffering to be done, let it be the suffering of a remorseful heart and not because the crushing hand of the enemy has found an opening into our life through unconfessed sin. Deliver us Father from those things that bind us. Set us free from any thing that causes us or our spouse to stumble and bring deliverance  quickly and be a rock of refuge and a fortress of defense to save.
Father, You have taught us that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, You will not hear, I beg You to hear our prayers….. I ask You to reveal where there is any disobedience in our lives, especially with regard to our spouse. Show us where we have not obeyed You and we confess it as sin and ask Your forgiveness.

Father God, nothing happens in our lives that You have not given permission, and as hard as this is I pray that we will be able to see Your glory through it.

Please Father God calm our mind and spirit. I pray that You will grant us the confidence and patience to allow Your work to be revealed. Give us the strength to take the next step in faith.
We offer our marriages, ourselves, our spouse, and our children to You Lord God that we will glorify You.
In the name of Jesus Christ I pray these things,
Amen.

Resting in God

Finally, I have a new computer desk and my computer is back up and running!!!

I must admit I felt rather lost for awhile without them and my life felt rather chaotic when my office was in such disarray.

And yet, this has been good for me since it has forced me to not be so accessible or available via the computer. And although I love to write this was in many ways an invitation to set it aside for a time and to enter into a time of more deep intimacy with my Heavenly Father, the One who stands outside the door of all the noise and busyness of my life….it was an invitation to commune with Him, in quiet and solitude. I wish I could tell you it was easy….that I effortlessly found the time to set aside all the work, all the “to do” lists, and all the expectations of others…. sorry to say it was a battle even though I knew the Lord was calling me into a time of solitude and silence, and the priceless opportunity to experience freedom from the bondage to human expectations.

God was inviting me to be still and to know….to get beyond my need for noise, words, people and performance based activity.

I’ve been down this road before….the place where my performance based activity was drowning me again, leaving me gasping for air. My body was begging for rest, my spirit felt depleted, and my soul longed for peace.

A precious friend shared something with me that changed my focus. She asked me why did I feel the need to make myself so available to others?? Good question, she even went so far as to offer one simple little change that did wonders for me…turn off my cell phone when I went for my daily walks….wow, why hadn’t I thought of that?? Why did I feel I needed to be available all the time, no matter where, and no matter what….I can honestly say that little word, “available” offered me a new way of thinking!!!

 Ruth Haley Barton said it best in her book, An Invitation to Silence and Solitude: “While our way of life may seem heroic, there is a frenetic quality to our activity that is disturbing to those around us. When we do have discretionary time, we indulge in escapist behaviors-such as compulsive eating, drinking, spending, watching television-because we are too tired to choose activities that are truly life-giving.”

 I came to realize as I cut back on my busyness, as I shut off all the technology, that on a deeper level I kept myself so busy, so available because if I stopped long enough to acknowledge my emotions I was afraid of being overcome by those feelings, feelings I would much rather not feel!! Or that I might have to face past or present losses and the emotions they invoked, or a big one for me is the emotion that engulfs me when I feel powerless to choose the kind of life I know that I am meant to live, what does one do with unfulfilled desires and longings?

It feels much too risky to enter into these poorly lit spaces in our souls….and yet, the Lord calls us into these places…and it is there that He ministers to our body, soul and spirit.

As I took the time and studied Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-10 what struck me the most was when Elijah came to the broom tree and slept. It was here that the Lord ministered to him, gave him food and water and let him rest. God gave Elijah permission to rest, allowing his physical weariness and depletion to take priority, waking him and feeding him when it was time and then telling him to go back to sleep.

This Scripture meant so much to me as I acknowledged that I too was feeling drained…it gave me permission to rest. To give myself the freedom to notice my weariness and fatigue with compassion….and so as often as I could I would find a comfy chair and sit outside under a shady tree, and simply “be” in His presence…..I must admit that at the beginning I would fall asleep rather quickly and struggled with thinking that this was just a waste of time. But I persevered and permitted my tiredness to be what it was and see what God would do. No guilt, no shame, no judgment….just giving myself permission to notice how tired I was and to hear God’s invitation to rest.

It just might be that the most spiritual thing I have done so far this summer, to get more rest so that I am attentive when I need to be, not so tired and distracted that I no longer hear the voice of the Lord ….what freedom to allow solitude and silence as an opportunity to rest in God.

I found there is a very deep kind of refreshment when I began to incorporate rest into my times alone with God.

It was in this time of rest that like Elijah I heard God in the silence!!!

 As Dallas Willard put it: “Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life. It reminds us of death, which will cut us off from this world and leaves only us and God. And in the quiet, what if there turns out to be very little between us and God?”

I encourage you, especially during the busy summer months, take times of rest, of quiet and solitude, shutting out the noises of the world, being less available and choosing to become fully aware of God with you in these moments, loving you and extending compassion to you just as He did Elijah.

 Hear the words of Jesus speaking to you: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

God with us

  The snow had fallen all night and then all morning with big, fluffy flakes. Finally late this morning the sun made its presence known. As I sat at my kitchen table gazing out at the vast, glistening snow covered fields, with a pot of warm tea steeping close by, a candle softly adding a bit of warmth and glow, I was awed by the promise found in Isaiah 7:14 “the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

God is with us…as I meditated on this one little line I felt the presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit. And as I was lost in the brilliance and splendor of the sun glistening on the snow like diamonds, I felt comforted.

But even as I sat in my warm, comfortable home, surrounded by the things I love I realized that of all the comforts I find in this world, the greatest comfort I can have is in the presence of Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah described this presence as, “Immanuel, God with us.”  Today, whenever I would think of this phrase, “God with us,” I was reminded that no matter what I’ve been through, or whatever trials may come my way in the future, or even the fact that I am alone for a time while my husband is away, I am not alone…God is with me!!

The very One who created the world, the One who holds the heavens in his hands, the One who establishes kingdoms and destroys armies…..He is in me and around me….He surrounds me with His protection, comfort and love. He is my shield, my fortress…He is my security, refuge and strength, He offers me His compassion, care, and deep abiding love. He is with me!!

And then an interesting thing happened….you’ve heard of the calm before the storm, well that is what happened here this morning. Suddenly a wind came up so strong that I could barely make out the neighbors house and for the rest of the day a blizzard raged across the prairie.

I live in the country and one of the ways we help supplement our heat is with an outdoor wood boiler….to make a long story short it sprung a leak and all the antifreeze drained out of it. I could no longer use it as my main heating source.  Plus, every winter my husbands work takes him away for a couple of months and he left just this past week….so here I am alone, with a major problem and I have no idea how to fix it, but God is good, and I am blessed with awesome neighbors who came to give me a hand. After a couple of hours I was tucked safely back in my warm home.

Even through all this my mind went back to the book of Isaiah and the promise of “God with us”….I can find comfort in so many things, yet it is when the storms come I find the most precious treasure of all, “Immanuel, God with us.”

It was this text that the gospel writers later used to describe the birth of Jesus as this shout from God that “I am with you.”

Today may you be encouraged as I was that through Jesus, God is with you. He is with you always…and has promised to never leave you or forsake you- Heb 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

 Never!

 He’ll never leave!

 He’ll never forsake!

 He says it more than once:

 Deut 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 Deut 31:8, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 I love God’s “never”!

May you hold His promise close to your heart today~God is with us!!!

Troublechild

One of my daughters shared a video with me that totally blew me away…it touched something deep within my heart, and God used it to speak a message to me….

A couple of weeks ago I found out that an elderly couple I knew while growing up, were moving from my home town to a new province thousands of miles away. I was saddened when I realized that I would most likely never see them again this side of heaven. I have wanted to write them a letter but never knew what to say to them….until I heard this song.

 Like the lyrics of this song I was labeled as the “troublechild” while growing up. People who know me today are totally surprised to learn of my past, they see me as prim and proper, a respectable Christian woman….and indeed I am. *grins*…so this is why they are shocked to learn that as a teenager people thought of me as the “troublechild”.

 There are times when as a teenager a parent forbids their child from hanging around with certain kids because they are a bad influence, or trouble to them….but I will never forget the day when I was taken aside, and with all seriousness, I was forbidden to hang around with my best friend anymore, not because she was the bad kid, but because I was the bad kid!!

I was shocked and devastated….that day my heart took another strike and a gaping wound was created…. I never let them see the pain; I never shed a tear, but calmly walked away only to later cry with such deep grief. Not only was I not allowed to be with my best friend, but I was labeled… deep in my heart I knew I wasn’t a troublechild…but just like in the video those words stuck and I began to believe them about myself.

The words of this video are so, so powerful, and true….all to often instead of crying because of the pain in my life I did turn to the wrong things, and people…..but instead of coming alongside of me and walking with me people continued to label me…and I continued to wear the label….until Jesus!!!

And like the video said, the very words I craved I had to tell myself because no one else said them to me….except a handful of people, and the couple I mentioned at the beginning were one of the few….this couple looked at me with eyes that told me they saw more in me than I saw in myself….they were believers and I know they prayed for me…they believed in me when no one else did or could…whenever I would see them they would look me straight in the eye and smile. They spoke more with their body language than many who use words. They lived out Jesus even though I didn’t know it at the time.

One Scripture that God spoke to me when I first fell in love with Him was 1 Corintians 1:26-28:

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world; things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

I know that this isn’t a Christian song but the words are powerful none the less…and I do pray that God will anoint it and use it to bring healing and love to the lives of so many young men and women….young people who need to know and believe that are of value, that in His eyes they have dignity, even when the world would throw them away….may we all see past the outward appearance and see hearts of worth and value….

And now I know what to write to this elderly couple…..