Browsing Category

Redemption

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

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.

200535130-001

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…..

Faith, God, Identity, Redemption, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Hey There Lonely Girl

July 9, 2014

tumblr_m29kmhnSPx1roht0ro1_500_large1

Hey There Lonely Girl,

On some park bench in the middle of the day, there you sit. You see everything and everyone around you, and you wonder, do they see you back. These vacant benches and quiet spaces have become like an old comfy shirt to your weary and broken soul.

For to be seen, is to be known. 

Sitting in secluded corners sipping coffee, you look like you’re waiting for a friend to arrive, but you know that’s not the case. You seem confident in the loneliness, almost as though you prefer the solace. No one can see, however,  that silently your heart is screaming for someone, anyone to notice you. To come into your pain. To make you…not so lonely.
Coffee Shop Girl

Fear of your destiny to forever be abandoned, excluded, denied, rejected, and forgotten sweep over your already tired soul and you just cant imagine how this life could ever bring you joy again. You will forever be alone.

Darkness has a way of captivating our spirit. Consuming us thick and tricking us into believing that dawn will never come, only night. Only the emptiness.

But hear me when I say this, Lonely Girl- light HAS come. He has come. He has seen those spaces and places you keep hidden from the world. The things that trap you in your loneliness. He knows the thoughts and regrets that plague you in the night when you feel the most alone. He knows it all.

And the moments when your heart’s mouth cries out to be known, to be loved, to be seen, He is right there, looking right at you….and loving you.

The world will always lie to you. It will tell you that you were a mistake, too screwed up to ever be fixed; destined for solitude. But He who is named TRUTH says otherwise.

He has said that you are more precious than rubies. He has said that you are so worth loving, that life itself is not too great a sacrifice for you. He has said he would never leave you or abandon you. To Him your name is not Lonely. To Him, your name is

Holy, Righteous, & Redeemed

He is for you. I am for you. And a chord of three strands cannot be broken.

holding_hands

So hold hands with me as we hold onto to Him and together we will see just how abundant this life can be.

“For Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

Dear Despair

July 2, 2014

 

Dear Despair

You used to be an old friend of mine.  We would sit for hours while you told me lie after lie and I would listen.  You saw into my heart and you knew the strings to pull bringing me closer to you and farther away from truth and peace.  You somehow shadowed my vision so that all I saw in front of me was the painful circumstances at hand.  It was as if your home was a deep pit and once I walked through the door I would fall onto your cement floor and stay for awhile.

You sat across from me and told me this life was too much for me.  You told me there would be no more money to provide for my needs.  You told me there would be no job coming to my door and my searching would go in vain.  You told me I would be alone forever and no one would ever want me.  You told me that I wasn’t worth much.  You told me death would win and I would be left only in sadness without hope.  You told me my burdens would continue to push me down and this struggle would get the best of me.  You told me there was only light if I could see it, feel it, and sense it.  You told me to put my hope only in my friends, family and others who I admired.  You taught me how to put people on pedestals and secretly worship them.  When I sat there crying you told me I had every right to be upset- I deserved to feel hopeless- I deserved to feel like the victim, to remain the victim.  In some twisted way that brought me comfort.  In some twisted way it gave me control.  You told me God was failing me and He didn’t really care at all.

For some reason I trusted and believed you.

But even in my doubts of a loving God and in my believing of your lies… truth broke through as it always ends up doing.  You were wrong.  You didn’t tell me- ” He knows what He is doing with me, and when He has tested me, I will come forth as pure gold!!” (Job 23:10)

You didn’t tell me that God may be calling me to live my life without something I never thought I could live without.  But if I have Him- I have the only wealth, health, love, honor, and security I really need and cannot lose.

You didn’t tell me that these present burdens are actually mercies from God.

You didn’t tell me when it feels like God is killing me He is actually saving me!!

 You didn’t tell me of the redemption that lies at the end of all this.  The Joy available to me in every moment.  The peace residing in me who is Jesus.

My trust has not been in God but has been in my circumstances, public opinion and my own competence!

I may not always understand… but I now see the truth.

God will provide for all of my needs.  (Matthew 6)

I don’t have to fear because God is always with me and I’m never alone.  (Isaiah 41:10)

I am worth more than sparrows.  (Matthew 10:31)  The sparrows were worth nothing… and yet God was concerned with them!  He cared for them and not one of them fell to the ground without God knowing.  If God is concerned with these birds… how much more He must be concerned with me?

Death may come and sickness may sneak in, but even death cannot overcome me or my God.  (1 Cor. 15)  There can somehow be peace present in the pain.  Unimaginable peace.  Unexplainable hope!

There is light.  When I don’t see it, feel it, or sense it…. it is there.  (2 Sam.22:29, Ps. 27:1, Psalm 4:6, Ps. 119:105, 119:130, John 8:12, 2 Cor. 4:6, 1 Peter 2:9)

God will not fail me.  (Jos. 1:5)  At times I feel as though He has dropped me from His hands.  But in those times I now see my faith is found in God, not my feelings.  He is Gracious and Holy.  Merciful and Loving.

You’re very good at persuading me to look at what God may not be doing.  But you forget that it’s all about who God is.

Dear Despair

You won’t win.  You cannot have my heart, my thoughts and my body.  I have believed your lies too often and now I see the truth.  For even when I am discouraged I will look to Him and rejoice in what He did for me, I will have the joy and hope necessary- and the freedom to follow the call of God when times seem at their darkest and most difficult.  I choose to not remain a victim.  I will stand up and shadow my eyes from the darkness so that all I can see is Him standing there with me- lifting my heavy shoulders, teaching me how to walk again up the mountain, and bringing me out of this shining as pure gold.

“We’ve all felt it- the uncertainty, pain or fear that leaves us on the brink of despair.  Perhaps you are feeling it today as you rise to meet what greets you.  We close our eyes and drink in the truth like water: He is our hope.”- Anonymous

 

Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, The Friday Overflow

The Friday Overflow: Ministry Spotlight- Epic Beauty

June 27, 2014

10380129_741059635932254_4318560271331148500_oHere at AGLM we have the blessing of getting to meet a lot of amazing ministries that are serving a need for women unlike any other. One such ministry is Epic Beauty. Operating out of West Palm Beach, Fl they seek to be a ministry to women in crisis. Whether it’s women in the sex/adult entertainment industry or victims of domestic violence, they strive to be a place of hope and refuge for these women. They do this by doing street outreaches and even visiting adult clubs to share the grace of Jesus to the women who work there. They even started a flower shop called Epic Arrangements as a place for these women to find healthy employment and a means of income to support the ministry.

Kim Gomez, one of the founders (and future mother-in-law to our very own Tenth Aver Brendon) shared this amazing story of how God is using Epic Beauty within their community. She writes:

For the past 18 months Epic Beauty has been visiting an establishment in West Palm Beach.  I hesitate to call it a “Club” honestly I’m not sure what it was but every time we entered through the door, it felt like the pit of hell.  The women that worked there were worn, beyond middle aged, outcasts, and many had numbers tattooed somewhere on their body.  Those numbers identified who owned them.  Hitleresqe style…  We never saw anybody dance.  We never even saw many customers.  The oddest thing about it was that we were always welcomed in, the Lord went before us and made a way.  Over time, we got to know the manager, the security guy and some of the ladies.  They were working people with families, stories and dreams.  Just like us.  The first night we visited, the manager set up a small table with 2 chairs in a back room.  As Melissa and I unpacked our gourmet cupcakes, baskets of books and Bibles, and our hot pink Epic Beauty cards, the manager sent in, one by one, the ladies.  They filed in and stood before us, trying to smile and act like this was normal.  They were in all states of undress, wearing barely more than tattered underwear, trying to cover themselves with their hands or cellphones.   They were mostly older women, dark and unhealthy looking.  Many of them were missing teeth and smoking cigarettes, their eyes constantly looking at the curtain that hung in the doorway, they were anxious to get away from us, wondering how long the manager would make them stand there, exposed.  

There are so many stories being silently told in strip clubs, the tattoos are the storytellers. The tattoos quietly cry out details about the girls belief in and need for God, their regrets, their treasures, their dreams, their loves, all these messages written on their bodies, waiting for someone to notice. The one tattoo that has pierced my mind and heart and spirit, was a dark and muddy number written across a woman’s neck, she was my age (50ish) and I wondered about the grace and mercy that left me on one side of the table and left her on the other side.  Someone had tattooed that number into her flesh, so that she and the world would never forget to whom she belonged, which gang owned her. That night, when I got home, I was at a loss and cried out to the Lord, “God, how do I pray for them?  What do I pray for in that place?  How has our city let them stay in business for so long?  It’s a brothel!  One must only walk in to see that!  Are these women too far gone?  Has the degradation erased any hope?  What can we do???”   I needed to hear from my Father. I felt too small, not tough enough for the task, I felt a little scared because we had been warned by so many people to stay out of this dangerous place.  Should we stay away Lord?  One of the women in our ministry had a dream about this place, a dream where we had walked into the front door and they locked it behind us.  We considered not going any more but I knew that was not the Lord’s direction;  Mark 16:15 says to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone, everywhere.  If we didn’t go, who would?  So I turned to the Word of God and in my weakness I became strong.  His word is my sword and the source of all knowledge and wisdom.  He led me to a scripture in Ezekiel 26 where God himself sent a message to the town of Tyre. Tyre was a city in Babylon that was extremely offensive to the Lord and God sent this  prophesy.  Ezekiel 26: 3-6  “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I am your enemy, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the waves of the sea crashing against your shoreline.  They will destroy the walls of Tyre and tear down its towers.  I will scrape away its soil and make it a bare rock.

The island of Tyre will become uninhabited

So Epic Beauty started praying this scripture over that club, this place was so dark, so sad, and so offensive.  And the Lord does Reign.  For the past 6 weeks I haven’t been able to reach the club by phone to schedule a visit, when we would stop by at night during an outreach, nobody was there.  And yesterday, praise God, we pulled up to the door and found this sign on it…  

PERMANENTLY CLOSED.  The Mermaid is uninhabited!  It’s permanently closed!  Yes, He Reigns and I will never stop praying as long as I have breath.  And the message here is this;

He calls us to call on Him for help.

If you’d like more information on Epic Beauty or would like to get involved or even start your own branch of the ministry, please visit their facebook and websites for more info.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/epicbeauty

Website: epicbeauty.org

Faith, Fear, God, Identity, Redemption, Sex, Spiritual Life, Suffering

And Then The Fog Lifted

June 10, 2014

 

It’s as if for the last year or better my life has been like driving in a fog. It was as though I could see where I was heading, but the world around me felt dismal and cloudy. Sure there were bright spots, lots of bright spots in facts. Moments where the sun broke through and the world seemed well again. But the fog always stayed.

A year ago I went into therapy. Theory after theory of what was causing this heavy pressing on spirit was tossed about, but no answers came. At one point, I just said it’s the season of life I’m in and it will get better. For a while, it did. I left therapy and I thought the fog as well. But that fog….it kept pushing.

I could count on my hand the many “Ah-ha!” moments I’ve had in my life. You know, the ones where everything suddenly clicked into place and all made sense in the world? Five months ago I got my ah-ha.

Weeks before it happened I could feel the fog pressing down stronger than ever. It was almost so thick, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The night before, I was listening to a sermon online by Tim Keller. He was speaking about the rich young ruler who God told to sell all his possessions and follow Him. As we know, the man couldn’t do it, and left grieving. What Tim said next cut deep to my core.

He said that in the book of Luke he writes, “Jesus looked at him and loved him and..” Tim’s point was that God looked into the heart of the ruler, saw a cancer living in his soul that kept him from Christ, and out of his love for the man, he wanted to call him to freedom from it. Amazing, right?!?

The next night I was sitting with Jeff in our room when the fog began to consume me and I was left in panic. I asked him to give me a moment alone, and began to pray. I begged God for answers/deliverance/healing..anything I could name. And gently, like the fog lifting at the dawn of a new morning, I had my answer. The answer I’d been seeking for over a year. The answer as to what was making my spirit feel so incredibly heavy.

lifting the fog1

I, Heather, had been sexually abused by a boyfriend in college. 

I wish I could go into the depths of all that transpired leading up to that moment and all that took place immediately in the moments after, but I will save that for another post. What I can say is this: God had seen this cancer in me for years. A cancer that I somehow never saw. And because He loved me, He had, for the past year, slowly been drawing that cancer to the surface so that I could be healed from it and become closer to Him.

I’ve been back in therapy for a while. Painful, beautiful, agonizing and glorious therapy. One thing my counselor said to me in my first session was that this abuse would one day not be the thing I fear, but a foundation on which I stand. Today ladies, is that day.

So few women/people ever speak on the journey of healing from abuse. The ones that do only find the ability to do so after years removed from the pain of the process. I can understand why. But what if someone invited others to walk with them AS they journeyed along this path? Could there be power in that for others? Could you, dear girl, maybe find the courage to face the cancer living inside your own soul? Could you, along with me begin to realize that the journey is not something to fear but rather a foundation to build upon?

I want you to come along with me as I hold hands with my abuse and learn how what the enemy intended for evil, God intends for good. His good, and my own. I can’t promise you my journey will be easy or pain free. But I can tell you it will be honest, and hopefully, it will show you that you are not alone and that our God…wow…that He is so very very good.

To continue following my story, please head to our sister page A Girl In Progress .There I will be posting regularly the road I am traveling, and hopefully, one you’ll walk alongside me in.

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Suffering

When Will the Evil End?

April 16, 2014

 

I’m really trying to make sense of it all.  Trying to understand why bad things happen.  Why evil is so real and so awful and why I seem to be so clueless to the pain people feel at night when I’m safe in my bed.  I’m trying to understand why God chose me to have this life and why others have to go through “hell”.

Sometimes life shakes life up a bit.  Sometimes it even shakes my faith up a bit.

Tossing and turning in the storm as waves start crashing in the boat and I’m told that God is in control.  Most of the time this gives me hope, but today it makes me angry and confused.  Do I believe God is in control?  Absolutely.  However, I’m a little terrified He sometimes choses to not stop the storm.  To allow it to persist and to let evil get away with evil per say.

You don’t really think about evil all that much when you’re running to do errands, cleaning the house, in class, having coffee with a friend. But then there’s moments when you come face to face with it.  When you see the murder, you see the sexually abused, the physically abused, the scared and the starving, when you see death right in front of you.  You see it presently in the life of someone you know.  Then it becomes real.

She stopped at the side of the curb with her tire spitting out air and becoming a flat.  I had just finished a run and stopped to ask if she wanted some help.  She stepped out of her car with her messed up hair and her thin frame.  Her bony fingers began to shake a bit as she began to explain that all she did was look down for a second to put lotion on her hands when her car hit the curb.  She then looked up at me and on the side of her face was a massive hole in her cheek.  Looked like someone took a cigar and burned her cheek until it practically burned through to the other side.  You could tell she didn’t want me to see it.  She tried to look at me from the corner of her eye so that her face was hidden.  Her husband wasn’t the kind and friendly type when he showed up.  He was definitely not “thrilled” that she had a flat and even his shirt posed some kind of threat.  I walked into my house and felt my stomach drop.  Who knows what kind of life this woman was living right around the corner from my life in here.  Was she being abused? Was she constantly having to defend herself physically?  Did she fall asleep at night in fear of screwing up and fear of what the outcome might be?

We all ask the question “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”  And not just bad things… horrible things!  I typically have the answer- God has reasons beyond our understanding.. reasons leading to an ultimate good.  But tonight I am searching high and low for God to give me a really good reason for all the pain in this world.  Because I am seeing it with my own eyes in people that I love and I don’t think this is ok.

In my searching for “why”… I was answered with “who.”  The heart of God doesn’t think this is ok either.  His heart is broken.  When we search the heart of the Father we find that He is not this big powerful being just watching it all happen without a care in the world…He is weeping and angry and ready to pounce.  ” …..how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the Lord.”- Ezekiel 6:9  God, even more than myself, wants evil to end.  He hates evil.  He will not let evil go unpunished.  And that, my friends, is where I find hope.  I may not know why but I do know there is punishment waiting for those who walk in evil.  And there has to be judgement.  Either on the sinner or Christ for the sinner! There will be redemption! He will make right everything that is so wrong.  This life will be made new and these scars will be wiped clean.

” He will bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God’ to comfit all who mourn; to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit….. for I the Lord LOVE justice; I HATE robbery and wrong with violence.” – Isaiah 61

We have hope in the God of justice and love.  We have hope in His wrath knowing that He will have revenge on all who have chosen to take the path of idolatry and evil.  And we have hope in His love for us… He is fighting for us and He has died for us.  He is coming back! Your kingdom come Lord!!

” Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is hoy continue to be holy.  Look, I AM COMING SOON!!  Bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes.  ( In His blood)  They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.  Outside the city are the dogs- the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches.  I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne.  I am the bright morning star!.” Rev. 22:10-16   

” I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage… in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for ALL hearts, for the comforting of ALL resentments, for the atonement of ALL the crimes of humanity, for ALL the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”- Fyodor Dostoyevsky,  The Brothers Karamozov

 

Faith, Fear, God, Redemption, Spiritual Life, Suffering

There’s Always A Light

March 12, 2014

I don’t like the dark. It’s not that I’m really afraid of the dark, it’s just that there is a level of uncertainty that comes in a poorly lit room or area that makes me a tad uncomfortable. Even in the most familiar of spaces, like my home, I get uneasy walking through at night when there aren’t any lights on. Shadowy corners become dark figures, noises become heightened and I, well, I become on edge.

Crazy things happen to our bodies when we enter into darkness. Our vision blurs, our pulse races, and our anxieties heighten. The night closes in and almost feels thick, tangible to the touch. Yet in the midst of it all, our body also begins to seek out light. Our brain sends a message to our pupils causing them to open as wide as they can, embracing the darkness so that it can grab on to any light source that exists. Once found, our vision adjusts, things become clear and we can see again. In a moment, that huge void no longer seems quite so colossal.

I’ve been memorizing scripture throughout the book of John this year. One of the first verses I learned was John 1:5-

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The light (Jesus) shines in the darkness (evil/sin/pain/hurt/abuse/fear/anxiety) and the darkness has not overcome it. Just like our bodies are designed to instinctively seek out light in a dark room, so are our souls created to ache for the hope and light of Christ when our lives seem to be overcome with darkness. Because there is always, always ALWAYS light.

The greatest weakness of the enemy is that he cannot see the future. When he rides in and stirs chaos and deceit and abuse and pain and lies and sin…in his arrogance, he believes he’s beat you. But girl, he cannot see what God sees. He forgets that light can never become overcome by darkness. And that because light can never be consumed, it can never be destroyed. And if it can never be destroyed, then light will always win.

In my own life, I’m currently entering into a very dark room that has been hidden deep in the chasms of my soul for a very long time. It’s a room I didn’t know was there, and one that’s way too painful and uncomfortable for me to go into. Everything in me wants to run. I want to close the door and tell myself that the hurt doesn’t exist and that I can be ok and happy even if the room is still there.

And then He whispers…”My light is in you…you cannot be consumed.” So I open the door and walk in to that darkness. I embrace the vastness of the black abyss as it slowly leeks its way out of its protective walls and fills up the spaces of my heart. My spirit begins to feel weak, my heart’s vision starting to blur. And then…light

640x360

His light. Like the pupils in my eyes, my soul begins to stretch..to open itself up to the darkness and seek His light because I know it’s there. He’s there. And when I find Him I find hope. Hope that creates a spark filling up all the corners of my darkened heart with a light and grace that moves me forward into to greater joys. It moves me into freedom.

So for you girl, the one who feels like her soul is welling up with darkness, there is light. There is Him. And with Him, the darkness will never consume you. Never. Don’t fear walking into that dark place. Do it holding the hand of Jesus as he guides you with the marvelous light of His mercy and grace into the place of life abundant.

Because in the end, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.

God, Redemption

Remember

February 19, 2014

My heart has been in an interesting season. A season of closure. Closure in some relationships, situations, jobs, etc. Through the closure I’m faced with the temptation to forget…to close out memories. We so often take the whole “the past is the past” mentality and use it as a way to simply walk away and forget. Bury the bad…but with it forget the good.

My husband and I have a theme this year…Remember.

It seems to apply to so much of our life and it ties into our passion for individuals’ stories and the greater story we are living in.   I promise I will go back and share in more detail my own story through my college years, but today I’m going to take a broader look and just share where my heart rests in this moment.

I’ve been through a lot of highs and lows in my life. Times of pure joy and celebration and times of laying on the floor in the dark wondering if I will ever be able to make the choice to move forward and trust God. I catch myself wanting to forget those moments. The dark moments. The times in High School and College when I didn’t understand why I was facing such earth shattering situations, such impossible moments…the times when Matt and I didn’t know if we would make it through the next few hours…they aren’t times I want to go back to. Yet, it’s those times that when remembered and looked back upon that we find God’s hand and faithfulness in our life, in our story. It’s in remembering that we are reminded of His unfaltering, violent, faithful love for us. It’s in remembering where we were and where we are now that we gain the motivation to face the next trial, the next hill, the next battle.

I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some friends and reminisce about the seasons we walked together, laughed over our awkward days and while there is some pain in bringing up those past stories I’m able to remember the joy that had somehow been tucked away with the pain….buried. forgotten.

Remembering the brokenness and pain in college isn’t something I want to do…but in doing so it leads me to remembering the provision and peace in the midst of it. The provision of text books, finances, ministry opportunities, growth, challenge in my faith…peace. I’m learning that you don’t need to dwell on the past and the pain, but remember it…in order to lead you into remembering the next steps of those journeys.

Everytime Matt and I are faced with another obstacle our first human reaction is discouragement, worry, stress, panic…and we are learning to sit down in those moments and remember. Remember the last time we felt that, remember the past situations…remember peace we felt…remember where we seem to get attacked. Remember how we stood together and pulled through, remember how we fight better together and not against each other. Remember that we made it through. We are here. We have the ability to remember our story. A story that has value. A story that is unique. Just as every individual has a story, has moments to remember, has the ability to look back and see where they have come from and where they have been….all things that have lead to where they are right now in this moment. Even my best friend Jenna and I are learning to remember. Remember that we’ve made it through seasons apart before. Remember that we have survived tension and misunderstanding. Remember that we have grown stronger through trials together.

I love words. I love studying the definitions of words. And as I looked into the difference between “to Dwell on” something and “to Remember” something this is what I found in the simple dictionary definitions:

dwell
verb
  1. live in or at a specified place.
    “groups of gypsies still dwell in these caves”
    synonyms: reside, stay
  2. think, speak, or write at length about (a particular subject, esp. one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction).
    synonyms: to brood, mull over, over think, to not move on
    Remember
    re·mem·ber
    verb
    verb:
    1. have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past).
      • Synonyms: pay tribute to, bring to mind, recall, think of, be aware, mindful of. 

      We are not called to Dwell in the past but to Remember. To be aware. To bring to mind. To think of. To pay tribute to…..

      We are a people who quickly forgets to remember. Just as the Israelites forgot what God had rescued them from as soon as they faced the next obstacle….they were dwelling on the bad, negative and buried the redemption from slavery. They needed to remember the pain, they needed to remember the brokenness so they could also remember the redemption and rescue. We are in the same boat. We must remember the pain and the brokenness, the struggle and challenge, so we can remember the triumph and the beauty, the rescue and redemption.

      Remember…