Monday, March 30, 2015

too much

My heart hurts.  Physically aches.  I know you've felt it before.  I know you know that feeling in your chest where the weight of something is pressing in so hard that you can't breathe.  It's a feeling that can sneak up on you, show up in the blink of an eye or make itself known well in advance and slowly progress while you watch and wait.  It's a feeling that can come through your own experiences, because of the actions of another or felt from the sidelines as you have to be a spectator in someone's story.  

Today this feeling that engulfs me and many others in my community of believers comes from seeing another hurting.  It comes from watching and waiting and praying for a miracle for a precious unborn life.  It comes when everything has reached the point of too much and the only ability you have is to sit and feel everything around you.  It comes from that place that lacks all understanding and has nowhere to turn except upward with a great distressing why.

I want to cry and I want to hide and I want to scream at the top of my lungs that it's just not fair and I just don't get it.  And often I do.  Then I am reminded that it should always feel like too much.  On this earth, the hurt we see, the hurt we feel and the hurt we cause is too much.  It's too much because God's perfect design was tainted when sin entered the world.  In a place where there was supposed to be none, any, is too much.  

You can look next to you at any point of your day and see someone who has a story, a need, an idol, a sin and a struggle because of it.  If you go about your day with your eyes wide open to the world around you, your heart will have the potential to always ache and always mourn for every single person you pass.  

Truly, the dangerous thing is for the ache to never come.  The dangerous thing is to never feel the hurt for yourself and those around you.  The dangerous thing is for your heart to become so hard and callous that no hurt can get in.  The hurt is what takes you to Jesus.  The hurt is what makes you remember that it is all too much and you need to take it to someone, the only One, who can handle it all.  

Many times we get to see the causes and effects of life play out.  We see the natural path that is being taken due to choices.  Those obvious consequences for actions, whether difficult or not, are at least easy to understand.  So many others times we are left in bewilderment.  We are left to wonder and wait, or just wonder and trust.  The Christian life doesn't give us a crystal ball into each of our lives and the experiences that are coming.  We don't automatically know it all and automatically get to understand and handle everything in the perfect "christianlike" manner.  What we get is a Savior who loves us and comforts us. We get a spirit that guides us down even the rockiest of roads.  We get a sovereign creator who is ever faithful and even if we never see the whys we see Him.

And even this moment as I question this current why, I know that even if I never understand, I have a Savior who does.  He hurt far more than I ever could, He loved far more than I ever can.  Whether it is with tears streaming down my cheeks, jaw clenched, or peace that passes all understanding,  I will hold fast to my confession of faith and draw near to the throne of grace to ask and receive mercy and grace in this time of need for myself and my dear friends because I have a high priest who understands whether I ever will or not. (Hebrews 4:15)

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgotWhat sorrow is carried by the hearts that he boughtSo when the questions dissolve into the silence of GodThe aching may remain but the breaking does not
~Andrew Peterson

Sunday, March 22, 2015

sunday song

Jesus, I my cross have taken, 
All to leave and follow Thee; 
Destitute, despised, forsaken, 
Thou from hence my all shalt be: 
Perish every fond ambition, 
All I’ve sought or hoped or known; 
Yet how rich is my condition, 
God and heav’n are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me, 
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Though art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, 
Show Thy face and all is bright

Man may trouble and distress me, 
‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast; 
Life with trials hard may press me, 
Heav’n will bring me sweeter rest. 
O ‘tis not in grief to harm me, 
While Thy love is left to me; 
O ‘twere not in joy to charm me, 
Were that joy unmixed with Thee. 

Hasten on from grace to glory, 
Armed by faith and winged by prayer; 
Heav’n’s eternal days before me, 
God’s own hand shall guide me there. 
Soon shall close my earthly mission, 
Swift shall pass my pilgrim days, 
Hope shall change to glad fruition, 
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

Words by Henry F. Lyte, Music by Jeff Bourque

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's Tuesday!  As I share this weekly identity verse that tells me whose I am and reminds me of what I am because of it, I pray that it not only helps me on my journey but encourages you on whatever path God is sending you down.  

As much as I like to think I like new and adventurous things, it doesn't take more than five minutes before my insides are twisting, my heart is racing and my mind is screaming for the comfortable places I know.  More often than not I leave on a trip looking forward to the time it is over and I can be safe again in my own place.  No matter how much I really do want to go on vacation, or serve others on a foreign mission trip, or just have a night out downtown with friends, there creeping in the back of my mind is the vision of holing up in my comfy abode surrounded by the people and things that make me feel safe.

This concept follows me to the new people category as well.  There are set times in your growing up where having to meet new people is a given even if you grew up in the exact same place your whole life.  The move from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school and from high school to college are milestones for meeting new people.  Then still, you experience this after you move away from everything you've ever known to a new state, a new job, a new marital status, a new home, and a new church, and the only familiar things you see is the clothes you packed in your suitcase. And even those aren't too familiar because you just bought them a couple months ago so you'd look cute on your honeymoon.  

I have very vivid memories of the pains of those times, when the familiarity of my surroundings kept growing into a bigger and bigger pond with more fish to get to know (or hide from).  There are some who relish those experiences, and think that life can only get better and be more fun the bigger the place and the more the people.  I envy that mindset.  There are others, like me for instance, that might have possibly quaked inside more than a little at the task of not just getting to know others, but of being known yourself.  To tell the truth, it was never really the first half of that that bothered me. It was most definitely the second.

Inside of me, of us, is this desire to be known.  For someone to see and know and understand you, and in the end not only love but want to.  Whether that want is a romantic one, where you find the one whom your soul loves,  or a friendly one where you see that bosom friend in the heart of another, or a casual one that is only there for a kind smile and word at your sons ballgame. That desire is present in all of us.  There are two problems that can arise, however, and I share this with years traveled on the problematic paths!  The first is the doubt and fear that keeps you from letting others truly know you. The second is giving other people the power to make you feel known, instead of placing that power in the hands of the only One in whom it should rest.

It sounds pretty common sense to say that you can never know someone, and they can never know you if you don't share all there is to share, but I'm here to tell you that you CAN NEVER attempt to truly know and be known by another human being unless you share what there is to share.  I'm talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Giving others the polished and condensed version of myself might be thought of as more proper and socially acceptable, but that will never result in a true and honest relationship.  Now, before you jump up and start spilling all your deepest darkest secrets to anyone who will listen, that isn't exactly what I mean.  I am not meant to be close to every person who walks by me, and I am not meant to spread my pearls before swine, BUT I am meant to be a light and walk in the Spirit and follow His leading and be transparent when the opportunity comes up. From there, He will take those relationships to where they are supposed to go, because as amazing as it is to feel as if you are known and wanted by friends and family, that is just a glimpse of a relationship that is already present.  I am KNOWN and have been my whole life.  

To let anyone else fill my desire to be known is just the same as filling up a bucket with a hole in it (and all the other cliche metaphors that fit this situation).  Giving anyone the job of something my Creator is supposed to do will only result in failure. Maybe not right away, but eventually it will happen.  I say this from 30 years of seeking out the approval of others, and seeking my cup to be filled by my relationship with others.  This is the very reason my list of identity verses started, and the very reason I now every (ish) Tuesday have made it a goal to share one of those verses, and why it is so desperately important to know who you are. Because Christ is in you.  To paraphrase the most comforting words to fulfill this desire...

You have searched me Lord and you KNOW me.  You know when I sit and when I get up.  You know my thoughts before I even voice them.  Before I can even tell you what I need to say you not only know what it will be but you understand my meaning behind it.  For that void within me that needs to be known this is too wonderful to even think about.  Not only can I not go anywhere you have created without feeling you with me, there was never a time, even before I entered the world, that you didn't not know exactly who I was and what I would be.  Even when I struggle with frustration and hate, you know my heart and test me and point me towards your way.  Psalm 139

Whether you are a current or recovering quaking in your boots club member with me, or love the adventure of sharing your everything, remember that all you desire is already done, and you are KNOWN and loved by the Creator of the universe. And the only thing left to do is to let Him use you to help others know Him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

In need

It's Tuesday!  As I share this weekly identity verse that tells me whose I am and reminds me of what I am because of it, I pray that it not only helps me on my journey but encourages you on whatever path God is sending you down.  

For three days last week my youngest baby boy had a fever and a stomach bug.  He pitifully laid on the couch watching How To Train Your Dragon 2 over and over (as if he doesn't already try to do that on a daily basis) and dutifully ran to the bathroom every time he needed to "frow up".  It was a sad sight for sure but not a completely unwelcomed one since his usual mode is tornado style turnt up all the way effecting everything in his path.   It was almost relaxing since he's nonexistant napping became a daily occurrence for four days running and all the things I got done stayed done because no tornado sent them flying.  

Then Sunday came and the germs made their way to my oldest two baby boys.  By Sunday night there was weeping and gnashing of teeth and a bed that needed to be changed twice and buckets to empty and mouths to wipe and tears to console and sleep to miss out on.  Lots of sleep to miss out on.   Didn't I mention the lack of sleep?

I have spent the last two days washing every ounce of bedding on all the beds in our house.  Do you know how long it takes for bedding to wash and then dry.  A LONG time.   Then the cleaning up and nurse maiding and snack fetching and the taking care of the tornado who is now feeling extremely chipper and ready to roll.  I love being a mom and I love my sweet boys but when you catch yourself at 3 o'clock in the afternoon still in your glasses, pajamas, and unbrushed hair (and teeth) being physically pulled in three different directions and mentally pulled in 10x that many something in you starts to give.  If I'm being completely honest something in you starts to snap. 

 Yes there are worse problems people are facing and yes I am one of the people who has faced difficulties much worse than this one but this week this is where I am and I know you've felt it before and I know at least one other person understands that weird mix of anger, guilt, hopelessness and depression fueling around ready to send you over the edge or at least to a locked closet with a couple hours supply of chocolate.

Thankfully before I could retreat too far into the exhausted haze and frustrated feelings the Spirit adjusted the well worn path I was about to start down and reminded me to stop and look up.  Searching instead for the words hidden in my heart, the words that are there for the singular reason to point me back to Christ.  To look there instead of the mess around me. 

 To be still, and know that He is God 
Psalms 46:10

If you've ever heard the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour" you might also know that it was written by a lady named Annie Hawks in 1872 as she was caring for her three young children.  She was so overwhelmed with the need of God that she wrote these words.  I have no idea what was going on in her home that June morning but motherhood hasn't changed so much that I think they were all playing so nicely and cleanly together while she sat and drank tea while having her quiet time,   One can only imagine that she was also up to her elbows in everyday life and knew that the only way to get through any of it is being still and KNOWING that He is God.  Realizing our need is such a humbling beautiful moment, even if that realization has to happen again and again and again.  

When you see how much in need you are, you can see how much and who God has given us to fill it and being His child we are assured that He will continue to fill us to overflowing.  

I am just so very thankful I am His.

Monday, March 2, 2015

no fail

It's Tuesday!  As I share this weekly identity verse that tells me whose I am and reminds me of what I am because of it, I pray that it not only helps me on my journey but encourages you on whatever path God is sending you down.  

I am not a stranger to failing.  I'm quite the opposite in fact.  I have no struggle at all with knowing I am not capable of getting something right.  My husband and I laugh because while he tends to be on the side of riding the high horse that occasionally needs to fall down I'm hanging out in a pit somewhere assuming I have no reason to be allowed to crawl out.  It continues to amaze me how we were both on level ground long enough to cross paths.  It amazes me even more to see how we perfectly complete each other as God uses our weaknesses to make strengths in each other.  Big haired Paula Abdul was pretty close to truth as she was encouraging us to dance around our rooms whilst singing Opposites Attract in the 80s.

While from some angles it may appear that thinking less of yourself is just having a contrite and humble spirit, having experience with the less self thinking enables me to tell you it is just as big a struggle as thinking too highly of yourself.  Very often that assumed humility is really a constant state of self deprecation and low esteem.  Yes we are asked to humble ourselves and look to our sovereign God, we are told to decrease so that He can increase but we are also told we are chosen and loved and prayed for and cherished.   Looking down on yourself (preaching to myself here and anyone else who relates) is denying the truth of who we are in Christ which is why these identity verses are so important and why its not just nice to know but a NEED to know to live out our days for Him.  

We are all going to fail constantly.  It's kind of a given in a world overcome with sinfulness.  Perfection isn't possible which means failing is a given.  Accidents will happen, projects will not come together, computers will crash, bad test scores will be achieved, dinners will burn, unkind words will be said, fights will occur, families will break apart, children will disobey, rebel and cause worry in the hearts of mamas everywhere, and so on and so on until the failings will seem to pile up and overwhelm.  But never has it been said that failing at something makes you a failure.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37

If Paul reminds the church that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, the present nor the future, nor any powers, height nor depth nor anything else in ALL creation can separate from the Love of God than I (and you) are anything but failures.  Yes I know in context that he was speaking to people who were being persecuted but we take these truths in the Word and we apply them to our lives and whether you are dealing with screwing up a work report or feel like you are screwing up your life with the decisions you have made.  Nothing.  Not even the worst thing you can imagine doing will separate you from God's love because you are a conqueror through Jesus.  Dang good news.

So keep going, keep looking up,  keep failing and learning from it secure in the fact that You are not a failure you are a success wrapped in love by your creator.  All is conquered and you are secure.

Inspire Me Monday