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Spiritual Life

Q&A: Changing Who God Created You to Be

November 12, 2014

Please give grace as there were many technical difficulties trying to do this video, resulting in me being very flustered and scattered. It fits the theme of “wanting to change things about myself that God created”…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNclpuv0pkw&w=560&h=315]

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

Identity, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Keeping Up Appearances

September 17, 2014

o-SMILING-FAKE-570

“You have no idea who I really am. No one does.” 

These were the words that poured out of my seventeen year old mouth one night while sitting on a curb with my best friend. And I meant it. No one really knew me. At least, not the real me.

You see, I grew up in an environment where I believed that good or bad, you always put on a good face. To be weak was to be the unbelieving and faithless Christian. So I faked it.

I had the smile, the giddy personality and the super “I love Jesus forever and ever” persona down to an art form. I was the poster child youth group kid. On the outside, it looked like my life was perfect and I was lovin every minute of it. Inside, I was screaming. Hoping that somehow, someway someone could see through the facade. See me.

Fast forward to three days ago. Husband out of town, one sick kid, one wild preschooler and one worn out, stressed out, plain done mom. I wasn’t in a good place. I yelled at my kids when they didn’t deserve it. I swore to the heavens. I lied to my kids. I was lazy and disconnected and wanted nothing more than to just crawl into a hole and hide for a week. I was a mess.

Sunday came and I was barely able to muster the energy to take my kids and I to church. But I made it, all the while making sure they looked spotless, smiling and happy..and I did the same for myself. I smiled. I sang. I shook hands. Hugged my kids and greeted my friends with a smile. I put on my good “face” because that’s what I thought people wanted to see. But it wasn’t what I feeling. Not in the least.

Masks don’t take away our pain and struggle..they just cover it up. 

I think I believed that if I tried hard enough to keep up the appearance that my life was good, somehow it would magically get better. But it didn’t, and I always ended up feeling worse because I felt hidden. I felt like no one knew, and even worse, that no one cared. But how could someone care for my pain if they never knew it was there in the first place?

Girls, I know some of you are desperately hurting right now. Your pain is kept locked up deep inside your heart as you fake your way through your day with a smile on your face. But that is no way to live. We both know that.

Showing our pain is hard. It’s vulnerable and exposing and scary. It let’s everyone know we don’t have it all together and maybe aren’t the pillar of strength everyone thought we were.

Pain kept hidden kills the soul. Pain revealed sets the soul free. 

There’s a reason addresses pain so much. Because it’s real. Because we can’t escape it. And because we are never ever ever meant to walk through it alone.

“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2

Let’s break the chains of keeping up appearances. Let’s set ourselves free from the expectations that we have to be happy and perfect and good. Let’s show and share in one another’s hurts. Let’s cling to Christ and one another, reminding ourselves that we are never ever alone in the fight.

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  ~ Elizabeth Elliot

What are you hurting from today? Hold my hand and let’s walk into the storm together.

Identity, Spiritual Life

Serve the Servant

September 10, 2014

 

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God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT)

I had grown accustomed to the loudness that seemed to engulf the house as 22 babies/toddlers ran around during our morning play-time. I sat on the floor between the living room and the kitchen, with clear view to the entry door that gave a beautiful view to a Guatemala mountainside. My sweet little chunk sitting on my lap begging for yet another horsey ride…which always resulted in the best gurgling, contagious, laughter and a line of kids waiting for their turn. I watched that morning and took in my surroundings, observing our house mom care for her own three children and then continue to care for the other babies in the same way, no special treatment, you wouldn’t know they were not hers…you would never know they were orphaned, abandoned, given up…she treated them like her own. She loved them, fed them, and even disciplined them. Doing her best to raise them up in a Christ centered home. The door creaked and I knew our day of being peacefully our own “little” family of 22 babies, three honorary house mamas and two house parents would end and the attempt to keep sanity would begin.

Our little spit fire two-year old had bitten someone once again and was being led to time-out…right as two older women walked through the door.  I sat and watched. One stood looking somewhat uncomfortable, not knowing what to do, the other walked straight to the child who had been put in time-out. She took him in her arms, sat him on the couch…and began to “comfort” him…saying “you poor baby, being treated so meanly by the people here, you poor little orphan, let me just show you what love is.”    My heart ripped in two as I watched my sweet house mom put her head down as she over-heard the cutting words. She had made so many sacrifices, as did her family to be here to raise these babies. The women didn’t stay long, just long enough to give some hugs and snap some photos and then they were off to the house upstairs. Never stopping to encourage the woman who spent day and night meeting the needs of these children.  Just as I breathed a sigh of relief a group of giggly, teenage girls stepped in the doorway…they never came in. Simply stood in the door with their cameras…taking pictures of only the cutest babies. Never asking their names.  My heart began to sink…they probably had some skills we could use.

My days continued like this, people bringing in buckets of donations for the kids to be added to the overflowing shed, people wanting to simply play with the kids, and I watched as the house parents of each house seemed more and more worn out, struggling to scrape up money for their own children and family needs, never having time to refresh, breathe or take timeto themselves. Always giving. Always taking criticism from outside groups. All the groups with good intentions, just many with poor actions. That was the summer my heart felt called to the missionaries. The ones giving up the comforts and safety for their children, to serve the least of these. That was the summer I realized I was not called just to love the orphan and widow…I was called to love the missionary, to serve them and help enable them to do what they are called and gifted to do. So many intentions are so good, yet we have an epidemic of fitting God’s calling for us in a box. We have a list of what we are supposed to do, what needs we want to meet instead of asking where the need is and then using our gifts to meet those needs. We forget that helping fold clothes, cooking dinner, or even taking time to stand in a tortilla hut and let the tortilla lady teach you how to make them…are all ways to serve. All ways to meet someone where they are at and show them that they are important, what they are doing is needed. Realize that you have something to offer, to help them be more successful at serving where they are called. You have the ability to sit beside, take their hand, and let them know they are not alone.

A few years later God led me to nanny for those who were on stage and I continued to feel the draw to serving those who were serving their audience. Enabling the ones who felt called to have a voice to a larger group, by helping care for the little, behind the scenes details that make that possible. Giving breath and refreshment to the ones who are exhausted from serving.

Girls, I’m writing this because so many times I have had to stand up and defend my calling. And I know many of you have such needed skills to offer as well. I know how easy it is to get lost in watching others have a big purpose that is noticed and we think that should be our goal as well.

So many times I have had to explain why my heart is for those who are serving others. I’ve fought to explain that they too, need people behind them..we aren’t all called to have our own audiences, our own big, shining task to reach out and do something that will be recognized. Some of us are called to be behind the curtains. Just like a show can’t happen without a lighting crew, sound crew, caterers, and someone to clean up the mess…just like a game can’t happen without someone caring for the field, taking care of the players, making the uniforms…the big missions and callings can’t happen here on earth without the supporters, the prayer warriors, the ones giving the front men a night off….

Don’t get stuck thinking there is one formula, one way to love, one way to serve.

Don’t ever see yourself as not worthy because you aren’t on a platform. Because you don’t fit a comfortable box. You aren’t on the field. You aren’t on the stage.   See yourself as worthy because you have a crazy skill for cleaning bathrooms, organizing, caring for children, mowing a lawn, making a good cup of coffee….whatever you are gifted at..use it. Serve those that are also serving. Find your worth and realize that God has gifted you very specifically, with no mistakes…so that you can offer your gifts to those who need it. Be wary of those who will take advantage of those gifts and give freely to those who desperately need it and see it as part of their ministry tool.