**I apologize for the poor video quality. Ahhhh Iphones.**
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.
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
“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.
We over at AGLM love community. An important part of building community is getting to know one another. When you get to know someone, you learn the serious and silly. The deep and the superficial. Because to love someone is to love all of them and see Jesus in every area of their lives.
We also love to talk real over here. To go deep and and share the raw honest truths and darkness that live inside each of us. However, we also love to laugh. We love to make jokes, pull pranks, be girly and sometimes do things just because they are fun. For as much as we need to go deep with one another, we also need to laugh. To be ok talking about the things that make us who we are, that aren’t so serious.
I wanted to do that with you. After two and half years, there are still a lot of things we don’t know about each other. Things you don’t know about me.
So here is a list of some of my dirty little secrets. Things you might not know that I love and do, but will allow you to know me better and make our relationship together grow deeper.
I don’t share these often, so consider yourselves lucky.
1. I bite my nails. When I’m nervous, bored, anxious…chomp chomp. Been doing it since I was five and don’t foresee me breaking the habit anytime soon.
2. I love, Love, LOVE Disney made for TV movies. All three High School Musicals, Camp Rock, Radio Rebel, Teen Beach Movie, Starstruck, Geek Charming….seen em all….multiple times. I even used to sneak and watch HSM at work when no one was watching. I’m a sucker for a good musical.
3. I talk to myself a lot. When I’m angry at someone or am going to go chat with someone or have a meeting, I’ll rehearse what I want to say with myself (usually while alone in the car driving) and it helps me focus. Maybe I’m crazy, but it’s effective for me.
4. I am 1/4 Italian. The one quarter I am, tends to show up in three little dark rogue hairs that occasionally show up on my chin. So not feminine. So gross, and so worth the four dollars I spent on a good pair of tweezers. Eyebrows aren’t the only thing that need plucked sometimes.
5. I had a crush on a character in a movie so badly that I wrote to the actor who played him. I then fantasized for six months about us becoming pen pals, then friends, then married and then we’d live happily ever after forever. I was twelve. He never wrote me back. Punk.
6. I can’t dance. I mean AT ALL. When I try, I end up looking like a baby giraffe that had just been born. Lots of long flailing limbs flying around in a fit of chaos. It’s bad girls. Real bad.
7. In 8th grade I used to lie that I had my period so the other girls wouldn’t know I hadn’t gotten it yet. I used to even fake that I had cramps. So dorky. The things we do to feel accepted.
8. When I was eight I accidentally broke the bedpost off of my bed because I was pretending it was Tom Cruise and we were dancing together. When he, (the bed post Tom Cruise) was pretend dipping me, the bed post snapped. It was so embarrassing having to tell my parents what happened.
9. I used to sing really loud every day on my walk to and from school. I used to think that maybe someone in my neighborhood was a famous talent scout and maybe they’d hear my singing and want to make me famous. Yes, I had a vivid imagination growing up.
10. I was OBSESSED with New Kids On the Block (boy band) as a kid. When they had their reunion tour a few years ago with the Backstreet Boys, one of my good friends and I went, and I MAY have screamed like a little fangirl and I MAY have yelled a couple of times that I loved Donny Whalberg. MAY have. It was loud, and no one can prove anything.
So those are some of my dirty little secrets that I hope will let you know a little more about who I am, and maybe make us a little closer as AGLM gal pals. Now it’s your turn. Let’s get to know each other. What are some of YOUR dirty little secrets??
The end of every summer always brought a mixed sense of sadness and joy for me. Sure, I was going to miss sleeping in, spending the day doing whatever I wanted and the general freedom of the season. Yet the end of summer also brought me something else…a chance to start over.
Even if I was going back to the same school, there was something special about a new school year. It was as though three months of summer hit some kind of reset button and everyone got to come back fresh and new without any of the crap from the previous year. I could be new, different..better, even.
As the beginning of my sophomore year of college was about to drop, I knew I needed to make some changes. I had spent the summer trying to recover from all the vices I picked up the previous year. I was dating a guy who had abused, ridiculed, cheated and then eventually dumped me. I had the beginnings of a serious eating disorder, and a total loss of who I was as a person. I was a hot mess. I needed the summer to purge all of this out of my life and start fresh. Make this next year nothing like the one before it.
Many of you are about to or are in that same boat. A new year, a new chance to be something better and different than last year. You’re plagued by the mistakes of your past, and in a way, feel doomed to be that girl from now on.
My first day of sophomore year was hell. I remember struggling to eat that bite of food, knowing I needed the nutrients more than my ability to feel in control. I struggled to not look at my ex as he walked around campus acting as though I was nothing and that all he had done to me that had destroyed my soul was no big deal. I was determined to change. I needed to change.
Our approach to change can either cripple us, or set us free.
I spent my sophomore year unable to let go of the things I had vowed to rid myself of. I went back to the abusive boyfriend. I continued to restrict my eating so that I could feel like I had a hold on my life. I was outwardly happy, but in inwardly dying.
What things are you holding on to that you know God is wanting you to change? A relationship that’s become an idol? An unhealthy friendship? An obsession with your looks? Or maybe an attitude of bitterness, anger, or pride? Whatever it is, are you willing to make the change?
Not every “fresh start” feels great. Starting over can often feel like giving up everything for the unknown- for the possibility that things might be better. And who wants to give up everything for a “might?”
I let my fear of change and failure lead me back down a path I never wanted to return to. Another year of mistakes, hurts, and abuse. My need to control, to resist the pain of growth made me more burdened and scared than I ever was. The year that was meant to be my chance to be free, to be who God saw I could be, was instead one of possibly the most painful years of my life.
“I am God—yes, I Am. I haven’t changed. And because I haven’t changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven’t been destroyed.” Malachi 3:6 (The Msg)
Thank God that He is unchangeable. Though our lives ebb and flow, peak and dip; He is constant. He is always faithful, always present, always loving, always forgiving, always believing in what we could be and not what we think we are. Our failure to embrace change, to take that step to freedom doesn’t alter His love for us one bit. He’s still our greatest champion, cheering us on; knowing that if we just turn our eyes to Him, nothing can shake us.
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;” Psalm 37:23
“In the same way I will not cause pain
without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:9
Listen ladies, we weren’t called to be the meek, mild mannered, silent observers of this world. We are warriors. Brave, fearless, strong, and bold. When we believe we are the less than, the unchangeable, the forever broken; we are robbing ourselves of the beauty of becoming the more.
Don’t let the mistakes of your past declare who you are going to be tomorrow.
Summer is coming to an end. A new season is on it’s way. So let’s seize it while we can. Let’s hold on to Jesus and run fearlessly into a new beginning. Throwing off all the crud and baggage that keeps us from being anything less than the glorious perfection that He has proclaimed us to be.
I’m ready for a new beginning. I’m ready to be more because I am more. Because HE IS MORE. Are you?
So long summer. This girl’s moving on.
There’s something about buying a bra that makes me burst out into a cold sweat. I’ve been wearing a bra for well over two decades now, but even still, the same anxieties linger every time I cross the threshold and enter into the land of the “unmentionables.”
For me, bra shopping is an unforgivable lesson in humility. A constant reminder of just what God didn’t see fit to give me.
When I was in high school, there was line of bras that specialized in offering half sizes in case you just weren’t quite able to fit in to a general size. From the outside this seemed like a great idea, but for me, it was torture.
Grabbing an array of bras in full and half sizes, I made my way somewhat confidently to the changing room; all the while secretly praying that I somehow would miraculously grow boobs in the two yards I was walking to go try them on. Of course, as fate would have it, I was not the Nearly B or even the Full A, but the lonely and pathetic Nearly A.
Nearly A? Is that even a size? It almost felt like someone was trying to politely say, “You’re really built like a boy and have no chance of ever getting boobs, but here’s a bra anyway girlfriend.”
I didn’t buy the Nearly A that day, but the stigma of being a Nearly A has stayed with me since. For years I would try and buy any bra that gave away the impression that I was anything but a Nearly A. I wore the miracle bras, gel-filled bras, the 97% padding 3% you bras. Push up, push down, push sideways, if it made me look like I had a chest, I was buying it. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I still felt like the Nearly A.
I wonder when we decided as women that the size of our breasts somehow became a barometer for the kind of person we are. As if the bigger my chest got, the nicer I was and the more people would like me. When you really think about it, it’s kind of silly.
But that’s what we do, isn’t it? We take the things like being the girl with small boobs, or the girl with freckles, or the girls with a big bootie and we turn it into this measuring stick of our character and ultimately our worth. This causes us to then live in this horrific shame cycle of statements like “Why can’t I be” or “If only I was.”
When we stop seeing the beauty and worth in who we are, we begin to instead measure ourselves by what we are not.
“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14
Oftentimes it’s hard for us to look past all that we see in the mirror and grasp the true depth of beauty amongst the pimples, dimples, flab, and lack of curves. But ask yourself, if all you’re ever known and liked for is how you look on the outside, is that really an accurate picture of who you are? Of course not!
So what if I’m 32 and can still wear a training bra like it’s no joke? I’m also a loyal friend. So yeah, I got tummy flab that may or may not muffin top over a too tight pair of pants. But you know what? I also have a really great sense of humor. I love my kids, my husband, my God and my friends fiercely. I am honest and passionate. I am bold and at times ridiculous. None of these things can be seen and known by how well I fill out a bra or how good I look in a bikini. Being a Nearly A means nearly nothing when it comes to who I truly am.
There are still many days when I am that Nearly A girl. Days when I look in the mirror and tell myself that I am not, because I have not. Then I remember that His works are wonderful, which means I’m wonderful. My Nearly A body is Christ’s absolute perfect daughter. If He can see beyond what’s right in front of us, maybe we all should try and take a second look ourselves.
I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but just because my husband is musically gifted, it does not mean I am as well. I believe the good ol’ adage: “Those who can’t do, support.” And support I shall. Because I am not gifted with vocal pipes that can bring the masses to tears, I take pride in not so secretly girl crushing on those around me who can. So to honor these ladies whose pipes and hearts I dearly love, here are three of my most favorite girl crushes around. (In no particular crush order)
1. Lindsay McCaul - This girl is something special folks. She has guest posted here on AGLM, has a linguistics degree, and is seriously one of THE sweetest people on the planet. I heart her. Like, a lot. And on top of being the bees knees, she is an amazing songwriter and singer. She has a new record coming out next month that I am so excited to get out and purchase. Here’s a little sample of her new single for your tasty ear buds:
2. Moriah Peters – I first met Moriah when I was working at the record label before I married Jeff. She was just a wee little bright eyed teen girl, and possible the most genuine, silly, and semi-ditzy thing you’d every meet. After two tours with her, I knew my heart had a special place for this incredible woman. She’s the Beyonce of Christian music and her new record Brave proves it. Her story of waiting to kiss her hubby (Joel of For King and Country) til their wedding day is inspiring and something all you girls should hear about. Here’s the lyric video to the title song on her new album. Man, I lub you Moriah…
3. Audrey Assad – Audrey has been my friend for about six years now. She sang at my wedding, stayed up late talking to me about her boy woes, sang to both my babies when they were still in my belly, and is seriously the real deal. Her quirks, crazy food allergies and passionate and gentle heart make her a gift to know. Her voice is what I imagine all the singing in heaven to sound like. She’s the best, and I adore her to bits. Her record Fortunate Fall is music to listen to and live by. Don’t believe me, listen for yourself:
***Honorable Mention*** Taya Smith – I didn’t include Taya simply because I don’t know her personally. However, Taya sang on probably the most well known worship song right now “Oceans” by Hillsong United. I got my first glimpse of Taya at the Klove Fan Awards. Gals, the girl has style. And she was so sweet accepting the award and her accent was so cute, and did I mention how absolutely adorable her outfit was? (Kelly and I may have chatted about it quite a bit) They performed Oceans at the awards show and let me tell you, I think in that moment I was standing in front of Jesus. It was other worldly and amazing and Christ-filled. I don’t know you Taya, but if ever you want to grab coffee, I’m totally open. So these are my girl crushes…who are yours???
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.
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…..
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.
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.
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.”