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Faith, Forgiveness, God, Redemption, Uncategorized

A Bear Introduced Me to Jesus

February 11, 2015

Young woman waiting for the train

I began my relationship with Jesus via a bear…not a real one but one that was a man dressed up like a bear. Now that is not the way most people start their journey with Christ, but what I know is that when I was 6 during a show at church for kids, God drew me to Himself. That’s where it began but certainly not where it ended.
We all have struggles that we just can’t seem to get past, sins that we pray would go away but are still lurking in our minds every day, and the guilt of that specific time when we really messed up. Or maybe it’s something that happened to you that wasn’t necessarily your responsibility, but you feel like you’re still tainted, scarred, and you just want it to be erased.
I grew up being the church girl, and I really did love God! I wanted to to grow in my relationship with Him and tell my friends about Him. But, probably just like you, I still remember the countless times in high school and college when I thought to myself, “Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I stop? If others only knew how bad I really am for what I do and think…”
I wanted to obey God because I knew he saved my life when I was 6 years old. But still I would have selfish, lustful, straight-up-mean girl thoughts about others. I knew it was wrong because it wasn’t “Christian”, but I didn’t know how to stop.
I would fight myself to get rid of these “dirty” thoughts. I hid my sin because I knew it was not honoring to God, but it was just making me feel worse and worse.
I wanted a way to restart. I wanted a way to go back when I first decided to follow Jesus, to be able to STOP doing what I didn’t want to do, and to erase all the sins I kept committing. I wanted to be the girl that God wanted me to be. I knew that I would find joy and freedom there, but I didn’t know how to get there.
I began to really search what it meant to be a follower of Jesus despite my sin and the struggles I faced. I read a lot of books on what the gospel really means. I went to a church that explained the gospel so clearly in a way that I had never understood it before even though I grew up being a “church girl.”
Something began to click and I felt like I had been given a restart every single day and even every single moment. Even on my worst of days, God revealed to me how I could have a clean slate, a do-over. I knew I would still struggle with sin, but I realized that even in the midst of my struggle, Jesus gave me a gift when I first received him when I was 6 that trumps any gift I could ever receive.
One of my favorite Christian authors explained the gospel in a way that made total sense to me…
When you make the decision to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, he not only forgives you by wiping your “slate” clean, but then he takes your clean “slate” and writes on it “RIGHTEOUS”. So not only have your sins been completely forgiven, meaning God chose to completely remove your sin, but then he chose to mark you as PERFECT!
Stop for a second and just think about that paragraph above as deeply as you can. If you understand it, it should revolutionize your entire LIFE!
He doesn’t just forgive and forget. He literally makes you a perfect daughter in His sight, and he wants you to believe this even more so on your worst of days when you feel like a complete mess up because those days will still come.
It’s ok if you don’t have it all together. It’s ok if you mess up and just don’t understand why you still struggle even though you pray every day. God knows your struggle. He knows your pain. And he is with you the entire way. It’s a journey, and it’s all for your good.
The difference is that you no longer have to feel guilty because you aren’t!
You no longer are damned or screwed because God sent Jesus to die in your place so that you could receive Jesus’ perfect life AS YOUR OWN! There is nothing you can do to screw it up once you are His. The gospel is a mystery and entirely beautiful because through the gospel, Jesus gives us a new life, a do-over, a restart forever.
I want to end with what the Bible says about this since it actually has power compared to my mere words :-)

Here is what Romans 8:22-25 says about this with my added comments in parenthesis,
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction

(no matter how bad you think your sin may be or how good you think you are):

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified

(or made “right”)

by his grace as a gift

(nothing we could have ever done on our own to earn this),

through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation

(which means Jesus bore all God’s wrath IN YOUR PLACE)

by his blood, to be received by faith.”

 

This amazing news will change your life the more you begin to understand it and give God the praise and glory for it.

Will you let it change your life?

Faith, God, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Get Over Yourself

February 4, 2015

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We’ve been friends a while, haven’t we? We’ve walked through life together, sharing our secrets, our hurts and our joys. So, because we are friends, friends who love each other, it’s time to start getting real with one another. You ready friends?

It’s February. By now you’ve had enough time to make resolutions and not keep them. You’ve had time to set goals and miss them. Time to seek freedom from sin only to be lured back into its tempting grip. I can imagine that for those of you who are in this place, you’re probably telling yourself things like this:

“How can God ever forgive me?”

“Why can’t I get better?”

“I’ll always be stuck like this.”

“I should just give up. God has totally abandoned me.” 

I get it. You’re in a dark place. You feel like you’re at the bottom of a deep well with no possible way out. You want hope. You want a way out of this place and into a better life. For those of you who might be feeling this way, as your friend, I have something to tell you.

Get. Over. Yourself.

I know that sounds harsh. I know that it’s not the flowery, grace-filled, sunshine and roses affirmation you want to hear. But listen my sweet friend, it’s the truth.

In order to move forward, move past and move on from whatever it is that is keeping us from freedom and a closeness to Christ, we first have to learn to get over ourselves. We have to realize that we are not the exception to the rule. When Christ said that he died for ALL mankind, you are included in the all. When he said that His death has granted us freedom from the stronghold of death and sin, again, YOU are included in that. Stop thinking like you aren’t.

When we begin to tell ourselves that our sins are too great or too big or too bad for God to ever forgive, we minimize Him and make much of ourselves. We are saying that God can’t overcome our strongholds, because we are just too messed up for the almighty Savior of the world to redeem. It’s not in humility that we say that God could never forgive us, but rather our pride.

Listen closely, you’re not at war with God. The moment He took His last breath on the cross and broke the chains of hell and death was the exact moment that the chasm caused by sin was filled and your battle with Jesus finally found peace. Live in that peace. Stop telling yourself that your chance for freedom is too far gone. Stop looking to yourself and focus on Jesus.

Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Did you hear that? You are FREE. So as Paul says, stand firm in that freedom and don’t make yourself a slave anymore.

Ladies, let’s make this the year we finally learn to get over ourselves. The year we stop glorifying our guilt and not Jesus. Let’s be women who stop making much of our our sin and instead live in how much we are loved by the Father. Let’s not just say we want to be free, but instead live as the free people we are.

Remember how I said we’re friends? Well friend, get over yourself and I’ll do the same. And together, as friends, we can make this new year one of hope and peace.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

Out With The Old

January 28, 2015

 

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There’s something about a new year and all the “new” it brings… New is exciting. New is terrifying. New is…pretty much everything this time of year. January 1st is just another day, really. As are the other 364. But that one digit change at the end of the date from a 4 to a 5 tells us that we made it another 365 days. We can’t wait to finally close the book that was 2014 and dive into the crisp, clean pages of 2015. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in new new new that we forget the importance of the old.

Now don’t get me wrong – new beginnings are a good thing. There are times in each of our lives when we just need a fresh start. But too often we take that to mean that we need to start over completely from scratch…wiping our slates clean, forgetting the past year, and resolving to focus only on the year ahead.

Again, the intentions are great, but here is where we need a shift in perspective.

Whoever said we have to be completely out with the old to welcome in and embrace the new?

Sure, maybe you had just a downright crappy year. But how much did God teach you and mold you in that time? How many intense, yet valuable lessons did you learn when your world was upside-down? How much growth came from the most unfortunate circumstances?

…And how much beauty was birthed from the pain, frustration, anger and confusion? How many tears did God turn from sorrow to joy? How many screams did He transform into laughter? How many headaches faded to make way for smiles?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

ALL things. Not just the fun times, but the miserable ones, too. Not just your highs, but your lows. God works all of these things together for our good! Sometimes that can be hard to see, of course. But when we stop dwelling in the negatives, we beginto see all the positive things the Lord has done and the light He has brought from our darkest moments.

Now let’s turn the tables a little bit. Maybe you’re like me and your year wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, of course, but for the most part…you can’t complain. Or maybe it was great! So you don’t need me telling you not to chuck your memories out the window. But it’s actually just as easy when you have a good year to fall into this “out with the old, in with the new” mentality!

This is exactly where I found myself recently. I approached the new year expecting big, exciting, radical lessons. I learned a lot about myself and about the Lord over the past year, and I appreciate every single lesson. But I’m ready to go deeper. I’m ready for more. I’m ready for new.

So right off the bat I was looking for it. That first big experience of many sure to come this year that would open my eyes and stretch my faith. I was ready. Watching. Waiting…

…And here we are, just about at the end of January. And all that’s come my way is just the same old, same old.

I let that discourage me for days, thinking maybe I was doing something wrong. It felt like I just wasn’t growing the way I thought I would, and I thought maybe my heart wasn’t in the right place. Maybe I wasn’t seeking the Lord enough. Maybe I wasn’t spending enough time reading my Bible to be learning anything in the first place.

But it didn’t take long for God to clear the lies and redirect my focus.

You see, while I was searching for big, new challenges, I was ignoring other equally important lessons He was trying to teach me…lessons I have already learned, but constantly need refreshed on. It’s easy to think since I’ve already “been there, done that,” I don’t need to reevaluate basic things like pride, patience, forgiveness, grace, etc. So when I feel the Lord reminding me to check my bitter heart at the door and find joy in all circumstances, I feel the need to remind Him that I already checked that one off the list a while ago. Or when He starts loosening my grasp on my wallet, I grip tighter and kindly inform Him that I know what I’m doing.

Somehow in setting our sights on all the new that we know God has in store for us this year, we tend to forget that we never mastered the old (and never will!). By tossing out the old to find the new, we assume that past lessons have nothing more to offer us and we have nothing more to learn from them.

So whether your year was fantastic or much less than perfect, let’s not forget 2014. Instead, build upon it. Take those old lessons and put them into practice this year. Let experiences in your past drive you towards hope and surrender. Let memories of God’s goodness, in the good times and the bad, bring motivation and confidence to say…

2015…bring it on.

Faith, God, Spiritual Life

New That Lasts

January 14, 2015

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New doesn’t intimidate me.
Or scare me or cause me to question.

I love New Year.
I love clean lines and fresh beginnings.
Blank calendar pages holding promises of opportunity.
Empty “to do” lists meaning anything can happen
and I’m not bound to commitments.

But what happens when I “add new event” on iCal-
Or, as I inevitably will, break a new year’s resolution?
What happens when old habits win out against new attempts?
When the new doesn’t feel very new anymore….

I went on an amazing adventure in 2013.
An eleven month, eleven country mission trip.
New was easy to find.
New was easy to dream with
and set goals with…
and try to do better with…

Then, I came home to the very opposite of new. I came home to the town I went to high school in, I moved into a bedroom with furniture from my childhood. I drive the same way to work every day.

I started the new year with every intention of greatness,
every hope of being different and the energy to fulfill every new resolution…

It’s been two weeks-
and new has been replaced with normal. Radical with rhythm.
And the promises of a new season and all the potential for new habits are forgotten.

Because the feeling of newness doesn’t last.
Did you catch that?
the feeling of new doesn’t last.

In Second Corinthians Saint Paul writes,

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed
away. Behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthinans 5:17

If I have a single greatest struggle in my relationship with Christ it is this.
I don’t always feel like a new creation.
I don’t always, in my flesh, act in accordance with my belief that The Cross was enough.
I would rather earn my newness.

Like a child in a proverbial bathtub
I constantly scrub and question and scrub and question
and jump in the mud just to watch the stains swirl around the drain
scrub and question.
and repeat.
Am I shiny and new enough yet?

Paul isn’t writing about personalities, or lists, or hair colors or even our habits.
Yes, there is continual sanctification going on-
and Yes! we desire to look more Christlike each day.

Spiritual disciplines are good and right.
But disciplines and doctrine are not what make us new creations.

Sweet girls, Paul writes of the eternal things.
The things that are unseen.
Our souls and our spirits-
the very things that were paid for once on the cross.
Our most true selves.
We have become new because we are in Christ.
The kind of new that lasts.

Let us not pursue the feeling of newness this year.
Let us not become distracted by imitations of new.

But rather, let this new year-
with all of it’s excitement and potential and symbolic newness-
remind us of the full restoration of all things to come and the sure fulfillment of God’s promises for his daughters. Promises not bound by our understandings of new, or our feelings, or our timeframes or lists. As the calendar fills up, and the rhythm sets in, and the excitement fades may we rest in this truth…

Your newness is full, complete, lacking in nothing, because of Christ.

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life

Monday’s Truth

November 10, 2014

I’ve read it over ten times. Day five. This post in my devotional book is one I go back to. One that no matter how many times I’ve read it, it somehow always brings me to tears. It’s a message my soul needs repeated. It’s a message I feel you need to hear.

So I’m sharing it with you today. Day five. My breath of grace. My hope for today. I hope you are blessed.

 

kels (9 of 165)

DAY 5: CURED AND CLEAN

Taken by: Comforts From the Cross (by: Elyse Fitzpatrick)

“His disciples said to him,
“You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say,
‘Who touched me?’”

MARK 5 : 3 1

“Excluded. Unclean. Defiled. For twelve desperate years she had struggled against her body. Blood poured from her, and that blood not only brought about personal distress but also made her a societal outcast. If she was a married woman, she would have been unable to have sexual relations with her husband. Even if she was precious to him, he could not take her into his arms. Married or single, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she was excluded from participation in normal family life. If she had children, she couldn’t lie in bed and play with them. Anyone who sat on a chair on which she had sat would be unclean and would have to wash ceremonially and then offer a sacrifice at the temple. When the family went to the temple on a holy day, she had to stay home.

To live in such isolation after childbirth was expected in those days, but the new mother was surrounded by a loving family, all waiting the day when the priest finally declared the mother clean.

But the isolation experienced by the bleeding woman wasn’t the usual week or two; it was twelve years. Twelve years without access to worship. Twelve years of gossip whispered behind her back. Mothers would have warned their daughters: “Don’t go near; she’s unclean.” Twelve years without a caress, a touch, an inviting smile. Twelve years of desperate exclusion, loneliness, and shame.

That she was desperate is clear. She “had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had” (Mark 5:26). We can imagine that year after year she heard about women in other villages who were cured, so she rushed to uncover their secret, scraping up the necessary payments, yet she “was no better but rather grew worse.” Every penny she could get her hands on went to doctors who only exacerbated her condition.

I can’t imagine what terrible indignities she suffered at their hands. This wasn’t modern medicine with its tidy gynecological offices housing highly trained physicians who write prescriptions for hormonal therapies and perform sanitary procedures. No, ancient medicine consisted of the most base herbal preparations, poultices, and methods that not only failed to cure her but made her suffering worse. She was unclean and her uncleanness had bankrupted her. And still she bled. Days and months of disappointment followed by months and years of shame and isolation. She could touch no one; no one wanted her touch. And now, all hope was gone. She had no money left, so even if a cure could be found, she couldn’t afford it.

Then she heard reports about a holy man who loved unclean women and welcomed them as followers. Many had been ill like her. Some had been possessed by devils; others had been notoriously wicked, but he had healed and welcomed them all. Amazingly, hope began grow within her breast again. Perhaps she thought, I have no money to pay him. I can’t touch him because I’m unclean. But even so, she believed, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (v. 28). So she waited until his followers and the crowds were passing by, and she slipped into the press. Keeping her head down and her shawl up, she furtively pushed her way ever closer to the One. There he is. If I can just stretch out my hand past these others! I’m almost there; please don’t let me be discovered. There! With my fingertips I brushed his cloak. Immediately, she felt her body change. The blood stopped. She was healed. The crowd moved on, but she stood still—a whole, clean, honorable woman at last. She had finally received all that she hoped for, but she was soon to learn that her expectation had been far too small.

From the midst of her reverie she noticed the crowd halt. The Master was speaking, “Who touched my garments?” (v. 30). An icy shard of fear pierced her heart. What if this holy man finds out what I did and takes my healing from me? What if he is angry because I’ve made him unclean by my touch? Will this simply end in more shame, more separation? While his disciples pointed out the size of the crowd, the woman bravely made her way to him. In fear and trembling she “fell down before him and told him the whole truth” (v. 33).

How did he respond? He called her “Daughter.” This is the only time that Jesus actually called a woman by this name; it was a sweet acknowledgment of relationship and endearment. Instead of pushing her away, he drew her close. Daughter-Don’t be confused. Jesus wasn’t stumped about who had touched him. He knew this woman’s name (even though we don’t). It had been written on his heart for twelve times twelve million years—yes, forever. This woman would have been satisfied with physical healing, but her Savior would not. He forced her to come to him and be in relationship with him, to fall down before him, to come out of the shadows and into the full light of day. Our Savior loves to give us gifts, but the best gift of all is himself, and he won’t let us slink off, back into darkness and isolation. No, his love will pull us out of our shame, defilement, and fears, and then he’ll speak gently and lovingly to us. “Daughter, be at peace.”

Because Jesus is completely pure, he isn’t concerned about becoming defiled by touching us. He’s not afraid that our uncleanness will contaminate him. Instead he draws us near; he speaks to us in love. He sees our desperation, our bankruptcy, and our uncleanness, and he calls us “Daughter.” If you’re like me, it’s easy to find a measure of satisfaction and peace in knowing that our sins are forgiven and we’ve been cleansed. But our Savior wants more than that. He’s taken us for his bride, and he isn’t satisfied when we hide from him or try to use him for our own purposes. Yes, we want to be clean, and he wants that for us too; but clean strangers aren’t what he’s after. He means to have a wife. And so he continually brings us to points of desperation when we have to fall before him, broken and bankrupt, and then he speaks lovingly to our hearts and draws us up into his presence.

Don’t be afraid to go to him now. He isn’t fazed by your sin; he isn’t afraid that you will contaminate him. In fact, as you get close to him, his holiness will infect you. Go ahead, daughter; press in through the crowd of all that threatens to block access to him—your shame, pride, destitution, and uncleanness. Touch him out of your desperation and find him patiently loving and awaiting your arrival.”

Excerpt From: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. “Comforts from the Cross.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/5Nkjx.l

God, Identity, Judging, Relationships

Judging Stephanie

August 13, 2014

Back in the day I used to know this girl named- well lets just say Stephanie.  Stephanie lived in my neighborhood.  There was a group of us that would always hang out and  Stephanie wasn’t one of them.  She was different.  She wore really short shorts and cropped tops usually showing most of her bra.  Her long blond hair was always hanging down the middle of her back and her face was hidden somewhere beneath all of the makeup.  I remember my friends and I would talk about her a lot.  Things usually like- “I can’t believe she is wearing that.  Who does she think she is?  I can’t believe she smokes…. that’s so wrong.  She’s really bad and we shouldn’t be associated with her.  So glad we’re not like her.”  Words like these were exchanged for a whole year between me and my friends.  But one day we stopped seeing her around.  We didn’t think much of it until we met another girl who used to be friends with her who told us what happened to her.  Stephanie had moved away because she was a foster kid.  Apparently she would stay with a family until they got sick of her and then she would be shipped off to live with someone else.  Most of her life she felt unwanted.  When I heard this I remember feeling sick to my stomach.  Here I was judging her without knowing anything about her.  Without knowing her at all.

“Judging others is a blindfold.  Judging others is a blindfold that blinds us to our own grime and blinds us to the GRACE which others are as eligible and entitled to as we are.” – Voskamp

 Everyone has traveled their own road.  Everyone has a story to tell, pain they have had to suffer, and life experiences that has shaped them one way or another.

Matthew 7:1-5- ” Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your (sister’s) eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your (sister) Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your (sister’s) eye.”

Phew!  Girls!  Where is your heart?  Is there someone that you may be presuming assumptions upon because of the way they look, because of their attitude towards you, because of the choices they have made and all of the outward things your eyes may see??  Ask yourself do you know their story?   Do you know them at all?  Or are you just sizing them up to be the very thing you want them to be in order to make yourself feel better about yourself? Have you looked at your own heart lately?

 “Do you hold other people to a standard of perfection instead of letting them all be held in the arms of grace?”- Voskamp

Oh sweet grace.  We can rejoice because we are covered by GRACE!!  We can rejoice because they too are covered by GRACE!!  I am dancing and singing with my arms outstretched because of who I am in Christ!  The more I believe in His love for me the more I am able to love everyone else regardless of who they are or who they seem to be.  We are called to love and we are ALL entitled to grace.

And then there are those of you who find yourself on the other side of it.  You feel alone and isolated because you have been accused of being a certain way.  Or other girls have their opinion about you because they are only looking at your outward appearance and not taking the time to really get to know your heart.  Maybe you’re the one who has had to travel a dirty road leading you to a pain so deep that the only thing you know to do is to inflict pain onto others.  Maybe you’re hurting others because you yourself are hurting.

There is hope for you dear friend.  “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord sees your whole story and sees the very depths of your heart.  He is lifting up your head, staring into your eyes and carrying through the weight of each day.  You are not what everyone else says of you… you belong to Jesus and He says that you are His child!  You are His friend. – John 15:15  You are justified and redeemed. Rom. 3:24  You are a fellow heir with Christ.  Rom 8:17  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 9:19  You are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him.  1 Cor. 6:17  You are a new creation  2 Cor. 5:17  The list goes on and on.  Who cares what others say about you… who does Jesus say you are?  The one who knows everything about you actually calls you one with Himself!  Hold on to this truth and be careful to not find yourself judging those who judge you.

In whichever situation you find yourself in, go to Jesus.  May he open our hearts to our own sin and dig out the filth that has been piling up needing to be plucked out.  I pray that pride will fall and shame will be thrown to the ground.  I pray our eyes be taken off of ourselves all together and placed on the cross. I pray we live each day with kindness on our lips uplifting one another, encouraging one another and loving each other because we have been given kindness and love when we do not deserve it ourselves.  May we not find ourselves assuming the worst in someone but may we find ourselves always seeking to understand.  “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord: keep watch over the door of my lips.  Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil….” Psalm 141:3-4

I wish I could go back to that little neighborhood where all my time was wrapped around my friends like my feathered bangs wrapped around my head, and Stephanie sitting on her front porch with a cigarette between her fingers.  I would do things a little differently.  My hope is that I would walk up to her and say hi.  I would tell her my name.  I would sit down next to her and maybe ask her questions about herself.  I would try to get to know her.  I may even risk being associated with her.  After all- Jesus was associated with sinners.  The tax collectors, the drunks, the prostitutes……hmmmmm….. even me.

I was no better than Stephanie.  I am no better than you.  We are all just children in need of Jesus.

“When this life ends we will all see each other for what we really are.  There will be surprises.  One of those surprises will surely be how ill-willed our judgements were.  Another will be how much suffering we caused others through wrongly judging them.  Yet another will be how often we were guilty of the very thing we judged another for”. – Anonymous

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

Fear

July 30, 2014

Yesterday my oldest daughter almost got hit by a car.  We were out to eat with some friends which included 7 kids.  It’s always a bit chaotic when we get together because you have one eye on your child and the other eye is in the present conversation.  As Eisley was running ahead of me to leave the restaurant I called her back and very intently told her to stay close to the adults.  She listened for a moment but then I looked away for a brief second while a jeep slammed on his brakes and the driver practically shaking in his seat told me to watch my kid more carefully because he almost hit her and it scared the *#@* out of him.  I then see Eisley running towards me from the street and into my arms.  My eyes welled up with tears.  Did that just happen?  How did she even get in the street?  I was relieved and mad all at the same time.  ” Eisley- you know not to go in the street!!  Why did you do that?  You could have been hurt!”  And then she proceeded to say….” I know mommy.  I’m so sorry.  I won’t ever do that again.”  This fear began to well up inside of me of losing my daughter.  The thought of her getting seriously hurt or even killed brought me to my knees.  But then her words that followed blew me away….  “I was running and then Jesus came and helped me run the other way so I didn’t get hit by the car.”  I sat there for a moment wondering if I heard her correctly.  Jesus helped her!!??  I just held her tightly thanking God for protecting my baby girl in a moment when I had absolutely no control.

If you have followed our blog for a long time it will be no surprise to you my struggle with fear.  In all honesty it’s a battle I can’t say I have won.  I have good days and bad days.  I’ve had two miscarriages and difficult pregnancies which has led me to fear losing my children.  I have had past relationships with guys who gave me more attention if I was looking pretty which has led me to fear losing acceptance from people if I didn’t look up to their standards.  I fear messing up my daily routine and schedule for fear of being left with a messy house and moody children.  I long to be used by God yet fear being used by God.  I fear that one day my husband will get sick of me or will no longer be attracted to me even though he has never given me any reason to ever worry over that.  I fear God will bring some major tragedy into our lives in order to teach me a valuable lesson or build more character within me. Sometimes I even draw back from praying for certain things out of fear of the cost it will take in order to receive it.  I fear losing friendships, gaining friendships, being judged, sagging skin, dying, truly living, darkness, being alone, what people think about me, others being used more than me, change, making the wrong decision, disappointing God, disappointing my dad…the list goes on and on.

Like the apostle Peter, I love Jesus wildly and passionately, but when given the option of looking at the wind of my fears or looking at the face of Jesus, my fears often win.  It’s hard to step out of the boat when we are anchored to our fears.  I think that’s why I tend to be a little over controlling in some areas.  However, last night Jesus showed up to my little girl and controlled the very thing that I could not.  Even when my trust in HIm has been lacking and my faith has been sinking in the storm… He still showed up.  I can’t help but think all my self- preserving and self-protecting has kept me from truly seeing His hand at work in all the things I fear.  Am I missing it?  Am I missing the sight of goodness because my fear keeps my eyes so busy?  God calls us out of ourselves and into Himself so we might live and leave everything up to Him.  So we might be radiant and full of peace.

God is calling us out of our fears.

“When God calls us up, it’s easy and tempting to look down at everything we lack.  We feel the limitations of our humanity and we become acutely aware of our weaknesses and foibles.  When we focus on our fears ,the risk of stepping out feels greater than the potential reward of living by faith.  In Christ we’re called, appointed, and equipped to live lives bigger than we are.  We need to stop judging ourselves by what we lack.  We come alive, find courage, and gain ground to the extent that we keep our eyes on the One who says we lack no good thing apart from Him.” – Susie Larson  Do you trust HIm?  Do you see HIm?

“What a God we have!! And how fortunate we are to have Him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand- new life and have everything to live for! Including a future in heaven- and the future starts now.  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The day is coming when you’ll have it all- life healed and whole.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5 The Message

” I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to HIm are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”- Ps. 34:4-5

Those who look to Him are radiant- meaning They found light!  Their faces brightened up and became cheerful.  Their minds were made calm, for they felt assured that God would protect them.  In Hebrew it means “to flow together”.  When you look to Jesus, not only will your face shine and be lightened but you will flow as one with God.  Look to Him and be lightened.  Look up to God in prayer and by faith, when in distressed and uncomfortable circumstances, for help and deliverance.  Expect mercy.  Your face will not be covered in shame which means you will not be disappointed by your hope but you will find relief.

I am sure there are past experiences you have had that has created fear within you.  However, we need to be careful to not blame the past for our fears or even allow that to give us permission to fear… because Jesus commands us DO NOT FEAR!  We have no excuse.  His power resides within us and His death as overcome fear itself.  Its easier said than done.. I know.  I’m not one to sit here and say I have the answer because it is a daily struggle I face.  But I am aware of my lack in trusting God… are you?  Will you trust HIm today?  Will you lay down your fears, look to His face and shine?  Will you surrender your past to His loving hands and stop making excuses for your fear?

“Climb out of that drugged, dead comforting pit that is keeping you paralyzed and break right up through the earth and into the life you were born for, in the now of your life, while there is till time and hunger in your veins.”- Voskamp

Faith, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Open My Eyes

July 23, 2014

The moment right before I wake is my favorite part of the day. No phone calls to make, emails to respond to. There are no little ones clamoring for my attention or breakfast to be made or bills to pay or laundry to fold.

The world is still at peace.

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As soon as I open my eyes, I am immediately flooded with all the things the previous days have left me with. A friend grieving over losing a parent way too soon. A brother and sister in law fighting to claim joy in the midst of a deep valley. Another friend aching to have a child fill her womb and the anxiousness of not knowing if it has happened yet.

Opening my eyes means opening myself up to the chaos this world can lend. 

Of course there are my own battles I wake up to as well. Will I fail as a mother today? How am I going to believe the lies that Satan tells me today? Am I going to like who I see in the mirror? Why did he have to molest me? Why am I so royally screwed up?

Jesus….get me through today. 

And yet, I also wake up to hope. Hope that my friend’s parent will be held in the arms of Jesus when they pass. That new mercies are given to my brother and sis in law every day and God has not abandoned them in their time of need. Hope that someday, a miracle will grow inside my friend and she will have a baby once again. Hope that despite all my shortcomings, wounds and failures, I am not a lost cause in the eyes of Christ.

Because opening my eyes also means opening myself up to all the joy this world has to offer.

“…the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” -Ann Voskamp

The world is a hard and depressing place. It can cripple the soul and crush the heart. If I put my faith in this world, then every morning is a morning where I wake only to the horrors of life. And who wants to live like that?

No, I want to put my faith in LIFE, in JOY Himself.

For, “Whom have I in heaven but You?And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73: 25-26)

When I wake, I don’t want to see storm clouds, I want to see cleansing rain that chases away all the dirt. I don’t want to see the the wounds on my heart telling me I’m broken; I want to see the scars on His hands telling me I am wholly found in Him.

Open my eyes that I might see…..