Browsing Tag

Written by: Heather

Faith, Spiritual Life, Suffering

Trudging Through The Mud

June 24, 2015

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I learned recently that in between winter and spring exists a season referred to as the “mud season.” It’s the time when the ground is slowly starting to thaw just enough for the snow to melt, but not enough for new life to spring forth. The moisture from the melted snow collects on the ground creating a layer of mud everywhere. It’s messy, ugly, and hard to drive on. As long as the cold remains, the mud season stays. It’s only when the sun begins to warm the earth and the ground fully thaws that the mud will recede and spring makes its way. Kind of depressing, I know.

For the last six months I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in my own personal mud season. This period of in between. Not the deadness of winter, but not the new life of spring either. I’ve felt aimless and hopeless. Lonely and lost. To tell you the truth, it is probably one of the darkest seasons I’ve ever walked through. And to get even more real, I’m not handling it well.

Six months ago I had plans. Plans for what this year was going to look like. Big dreams filled with big projects and great hope that God was going to use me this year for something amazing. That all the crumminess I had dealt with the year before would now be put to use to build up Jesus and His people and bring me that joyous harvest for all the previous year’s hard toiling. Wrong.

I found myself two months into this new year being asked to do something I didn’t expect. I was asked to let go. To let go of everything that made me feel like me. Ministries, passions, dreams, desires- all of it was to be handed over to God. Of course being the stubborn human I am, I fought back. I pushed and clawed. I sought new and different paths to get to where I wanted to go. Each time I did, God would slam the door close, reminding me once again that He was in control and what he wanted was for me to surrender to the mud. To embrace the season of the in between.

I wish I could tell you my immediate response was obedience and joy. I wish I could tell you that I was hopeful and expectant. But that’s a big ol fat lie. Instead, I threw a pity party. I cried for days on end. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped talking to my friends. I got angry and bitter. If God was going to make me live in the mud season, He was going to have to drag me through it. And that’s exactly what He did.

One morning I was having breakfast with Kelly (you remember our lovely Kelly, right?) and she said something really impactful to me. She told me, “Maybe God is giving you this season to show you that even if your hands aren’t to something, you still are valuable to Him.” I knew she was right. I had built up so much of who I was based on everyone and everything around me that I thought as long as I had those things, as long as I was _____ kind of person, then God would love me and see me as valuable. But maybe, just maybe, He had to take it all away to show my how precious I was to him simply because I was me.

The idea felt simple enough, but is still a hard lesson to learn. Because as I moved forward, I didn’t know who “me” was. Some mornings I’d be picking out the clothes I was going to wear and I’d just start crying. I was so unsure of myself that even getting dressed was a struggle. Things I once loved didn’t seem to be as thrilling. Passions I once had began to fade. The me I had known no longer existed and I had no idea who this new Heather was. As time went on, it felt as though the proverbial mud was getting more dense and instead of walking through it, I was simply stuck.

Two weeks ago it all came crashing down. I had reached a point of exhaustion in this season of mud where I just didn’t want to go forward. Again, I found myself crying for days. Angry at God for keeping me here. Angry at my friends for not calling me to hang out or reaching out to me to see how I was. Angry at Jeff for getting to do something he loved. I had resolved that although I knew God was good, His goodness had run out when it got to me. He didn’t love me, because if He did, He’d get me out of the mud.

As Jesus would so lovingly have it, I happened to get a call from the one person who knew what I was feeling- my brother. He’s been in a mud season for almost three years now, and if anyone knew what it was like, it was him. After pouring out my woes to him through sobs, he laughed. Not because he saw my pain as funny, but because he knew something I didn’t. He told me that some days, it’s ok if all I can muster up to God are the words grace and strength. It’s ok if there are days when my legs are so tired of walking through the mud that all I can do is be drug through it by God. I just have to be willing to hold on.

Like I said, my brother is still in his mud season. But something he’s learned that I am working on, is moving from knowing to believing. I know God is good. I know He has a plan for me and that it includes me moving out of this season. I know it. But I don’t believe it.  Because when I believe that God still loves me, still has good for me, and won’t leave me stuck here forever…I begin to have hope again. I can begin to trudge through the mud, letting my legs get stronger as a result, able to run and embrace whatever lay beyond the in between.

I’m slowly coming to see that it’s in these moments when are at our greatest discomfort, feeling the least like ourselves, that we can fully see God for who He is and who he dreams for us to be. Sometimes it just takes us walking through the mud.

If you find yourself like me, trudging through your own season of in between, sister, you are not a lone. I see you, I ache alongside you, and I too am silently whispering moment by moment to God to just give me grace and strength for today. Together, let’s keep holding on to Christ, working to believe that spring is coming. Until then let’s embrace the mud, and with each step, find hope that whatever is next is just around the corner.

 

Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption

Hope For My Enemies Brings Freedom For Me

May 27, 2015

 

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Today I was a witness to a crime. I had left church and headed to the gas station to fill up my tank. While standing there I began to hear screaming. I looked up to see a man choke-holding a woman in a car, silencing her as she is screaming for him to let her go. Men rush to her aid while I promptly called 911 to tell them what was happening. The husband sped off in his car, and I stood alongside his terrified wife as we waited for the police.

“He’s never done that before.” she tells me. “He was mad. I just wanted to give him space.”

The police finally arrived and I was told my 911 call was my statement and was free to go. I left the woman, thanking God she was alright.

As I was pulling away, I found my thoughts wandering to the husband. He was a monster. How could any man ever treat a woman like that? Better yet, how could she somewhat defend his actions? She should leave him. He’s an abuser and abusers deserve no mercy.

This reminds me of this past week, reading about how the oldest Duggar son on that TLC show 20 Kids and Counting was exposed to having molested his sisters and some other girls when he was younger. The internet and social media have blown up, calling him, yes, a monster. People have told his wife she was letting her kids be put in harms way and she should leave him. He’ll always be a sicko, they’d say. And the hateful speech goes on.

At some point in our lives, we’ll all encounter the consequences of the fall.

Our broken world gives way to broken people who sadly make broken choices. Whether it’s to beat their wife or abuse their sisters, people make wrong decisions. But the thing I’m coming to wonder is, do bad choices, no matter how severe, make one eternally evil?

Almost thirteen years ago I fell victim to the poor choice of a broken person. My boyfriend molested me. As I spent the better part of last year finally starting to deal with the ramifications of that moment, I found myself caring about my abuser. I wasn’t worried that he was out there hurting more people or angry that he was some sociopath with little to no remorse, instead, I found myself hoping he was ok. I wanted to know that somewhere in his journey, he found healing. Healing from whatever broken place lived in his life that made him make that horrible choice so many years ago. I wanted to know he had somehow run into Jesus and found redemption.

Just as much as I wanted myself to be better, I also wanted my abuser to be better.

So often Jesus spoke of loving our enemies. Even when nailed to the cross, Christ took a moment to ask for forgiveness from the Father for the very men who had put him up there. When the guilty criminal who hung next to him sought redemption moments before he died, Jesus forgave him. He didn’t tell the man he had made too many wrong choices or that he was too messed up to receive such a pardon- no, Jesus gave grace and he gave it freely.

I think so often when we are wronged we’re quick to label the one who wronged us as forever a villain. We blanket them with descriptions, damning them to a future that we believe is fitting for them. We make ourselves judge and jury, when the truth is, that job is given solely to Christ and Christ alone. What we can’t see is that in choosing to believe the worst in them, choosing to cast judgement and wrath upon their soul, we are fastening our hearts to the chains of resentment, anger and bitterness. Our enemies may become an earthly prisoner, but we become a spiritual one.

Seven years ago my good friend Tony was shot to death while out as a police officer doing a routine traffic stop. The man was cold and calculated. Even during his trial, he showed no remorse and even clapped when the jury pronounced he’d receive the death penalty. My heart wanted to hate him. To be honest, there are some moments that I still do. But I also pray for him. I pray that in the quiet darkness of his lonely prison cell, Jesus’ light will shine upon him. That maybe, just maybe, the man I believe to be the lowest form of human in the world could be offered grace and found forgiven.

If I can’t believe that God can forgive and redeem the worst of people, then there’s no hope for my own redemption.

Girls…some of you have known great pain. Pain that reaches to depths of darkness I cannot even comprehend. And for a lot of you, that pain was given to you at the hand of another. A broken human, who in a dark moment, made a wrong choice. A horrible choice. Yes, their actions were most certainly wrong. Yes, you have every right to feel the feelings you do. Your hurt is real and understood and appropriate and I stand with you in it. Let that be clear. But please, let this be clear as well.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the broken places I’ve been, it’s that hoping for God to redeem my enemies allows for freedom for me. When I can believe that God is big enough to change the heart of my enemy, then I’m also able to fully believe he is capable of healing me. If I know that God will reach to such hellacious depths to rescue someone I felt was so horrible, then I know there is no place I could ever run to where God would not seek me out to redeem me.

I’m not sure if the husband I witnessed today will hurt his wife again. I’m not sure that my abuser won’t molest another or that my friend’s killer will ever repent of his actions. I can’t say that whoever wounded you, whether big or small, will ever regret what they did or even apologize. I’m not sure we’re ever meant to know. But I do know this, tonight I will say a prayer that God will meet them in their dark places, hoping that they will accept grace,  while I thank Him that he so lovingly meets me in mine. I hope you’ll do the same.

Faith, Identity

Who I Want To Be Or Who I’m Gonna Be

April 29, 2015

 

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When I was five, we were asked to share what we wanted to be when we grew up at our kindergarten graduation. Me, with frizzy big hair and my semi-toothless grin proudly stated that I was going to be an artist. The confidence in which I conveyed this dream would have left anyone feeling certain I was about to be the next Picasso.

In fourth grade, I was once again asked to write an essay about who I wanted to be when I grew up. This time, I said an archeologist. I wrote of my vision to travel around the world discovering and naming new dinosaurs and foreign tribes, putting myself into the history books of tomorrow. It was quite the inspirational essay if I do say so myself.

In high school we were encouraged to select electives that would prepare us for hat we wanted to study in college. Seeing as I now wanted to be a nurse, I took anatomy and physical science. I was going to work with babies, maybe even do medical missions. I was a woman with a dream.

Here I am at age 33 and I am neither an artist, archeologist or a nurse. I never became the teacher, missionary, massage therapist, or counselor that I had also thought I’d be either. Life has a funny way of not taking us the places we had envisioned ourselves going.

Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder what would have happened if I had lived overseas for a year as a missionary or gone to get my masters degree after college instead of working. Would I have been happy? Would I have ever met Jeff or even been married at all?  The rabbit hole of what ifs is endless and one I’d rather not dive deeply into.

For two months this question of who am I has been swirling around in our little AGLM world. We’ve pointed out the significant and insignificant, allowing ourselves to see something deeper to the labels we give ourselves. Something other. Something that some might even say is holy.

But what’s the meaning of it all? What does it matter if I’m average or a storyteller or a bad dancer or dreamer or memory maker? Sure, it’s a part of me, but so are a lot of other things. So why the big flippin deal?

I was recently in Phoenix visiting my family and was out having coffee with my brother one day. We’re pretty close he and I, and often can turn the most stupid conversations into something deep and spiritual. I really like that about us because it allows me to know that God is in and a part of everything….even the small and the silly.

It was during one of these conversations that my brother said something incredibly profound to me. He said, “I’ve come to the place of realizing that there’s a big difference between who I want to be and who I’m gonna be. In order for me to become who I want to be, I have to be willing to take big and radical, sometimes even crazy steps with God.” 

If I had really wanted to, I could have been all those things I dreamed of becoming as a little girl. I could have taken art classes or studied science or gone to nursing school or taken a short term mission trip. But I didn’t. I went another way. Not necessarily the wrong way, just another way.

From the moment our lives are given over to God, they no longer become our lives. We are now a part of a bigger story- given a bigger purpose. The little quirks and personality traits that make us up are not just there to make us happy and fulfilled, they are meant to draw us further from ourselves and closer to the cross. In doing that, we meet a crossroads of who we want to become and who are going to become.

I think for a while I lived with delusion that if I just obeyed God and read my Bible and went to church, God was going to give me all I wanted and a life full of happiness. That every answer and season of growth would just be handed over to me on a golden platter from heaven with a note from God saying: “Here’s your future Heather, hope you like it. Love, The Big G.” Boy was I stupid.

In thinking about the things I am these last two months, it’s really helped me to see who I am not, but who I’d like to be. Sure, I’m a dreamer….but am I a dreamer willing to risk it all to follow the dream? Yep, I’m a navigator, but am I willing to let go of the reins and let someone else direct my course? If these things are meant to give me more of Jesus, what am I doing to help me achieve that? Or am I so caught up in me, that I miss Him completely?

I’m not sure where you’re at in life. Maybe, like me, you find yourself staring at that crossroad between want and gonna. Between the easy path of just going with what’s safe and secure or the radical one with great potential but a ton of risk. Maybe God is asking you to quit that job or ministry. Maybe you are meant to dump that boyfriend or stop hanging out with those toxic friends. It could be you’re feeling led to move away from home, go to a different college, confess that sin, get counseling, and simply just let go of the death grip of control you’re placing on your life and future. And my question to you, my sweet friend, would be…”Which way are you going to choose?”

I want to look back another thirty-three years from now with a smile on my face. I want to know that instead of choosing my comfort, I chose Jesus. I chose to do the work, even the painful ones, if it meant allowing my heart to be molded into Christ’s likeness. I want to say I did the nonsensical, the radical, the unsure and the unsafe. I want to feel with confidence that I did everything I could to move towards Christ in becoming not just who I want to be, but who HE wants me to be. Because any other life outside of that doesn’t seem like a life I’d want to have.

So, my beautiful AGLMers, what’s it going to be? Are you going to stay the girl you’re gonna be, or are you ready to become the girl you want to be. The choice is up to you.

 

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Navigator

April 1, 2015

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I’m a terrible driver. I know it’s a total cliche to say that, but seriously, I suck. I can’t parallel park, back up, or drive a stick shift. I drive way too fast, and I get distracted way too easily. (More often than not it’s by my phone which is a massive no, no I know) I’m the girl that could potentially be so lost in my own world that I’ll get home and have no idea how I even drove myself there. Let’s just say, I’m not going to be winning any awards in this category for, well, like ever. However, in the world of driving there is one thing I am excellent at: navigation.

I am on point when it comes to directions. I can usually use directions once to get to a place, and from then on I’ll remember how to get there. I can read a map, and very rarely do I ever get lost. I am not one of those girls (cough, like my mom, cough) who somehow can only find her way by the landmarks around her. You know, like, turn left at the Burger King and then it’ll be just past the rock that looks like an elephant type of directions. I actually know where north, south, east and west are thank you very much.  I think in another life, I could have totally been some awesome sailor, getting my ship across the seas by only looking at the stars. Ahhhhhh…wouldn’t that be nice?!?

If I’m being totally honest with you though, sometimes my arrogance of being so good with directions turns me into a bit of nagging brat. I can’t tell you how many times Jeff and I have been driving somewhere and we’ll get into a tiff because I keep trying to tell him where to go.

“You need to get over.”

“You’re going to miss our exit.”

“Why are you going so slow?”

“You know, this way would be a lot faster.” 

I kind of get in this know-it-all mode- almost as though there is no other way to reach our ending point than the one I’ve laid out. So often, I find myself stressing about the path to our destination that I fail to enjoy the ride.

Isn’t this just like our journeys with Christ? It’s funny…I feel like I’m letting God be in control. I’ve given him the car keys, put him in the drivers seat, and even let Him start to drive the car. But as soon as we get on the road, my controlling navigator ways takes over and I begin barking orders.

“No, that’s not the way to my happy ending.” 

“Hey, you’re going way too slow. You really need to speed things up.”

“Umm…why are you going that way?”

“You know, this way would really make me a lot happier.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to navigate my journey. Grabbing the map of my life and redirecting it’s course. Funny thing is, much like in real life, I end up being more stressed and worried about the process that I simply am not able to sit and enjoy my life as it’s happening.

Maybe the path and life you have envisioned for yourself isn’t the road you find God taking you down. Maybe, like me, you find yourself looking at your GPS and trying to reroute and navigate yourself a shortcut. Maybe God is driving you away from that job or boy or college or friendship and you just cant help but think He’s got it all wrong. That his way is too long, too slow, and way too hard for you to go down. So we grip our maps tighter, scream a little louder into His ear and begin to demand that we are the navigator, so listen to us!

Friends, put down your maps. Turn off the GPS, shut off the google maps, and in the words of Elsa… LET.IT.GO. Yeah, His way may be longer. His way may not look as easy or pretty or full of all the things we think will make us happy and fulfilled. His way may be none of those things, but you know what it is? His way is better.

His way is the way to true life. You can’t just let God drive your car, you have to also let Him captain it.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve tried to steer things in my own course. Sure, there were happy moments. Moments I thought were some of the greatest I’d ever have. But they weren’t life-giving moments. The paths I navigated may have left me happy, but they never left me feeling alive. And when push comes to shove, I’d rather feel alive.

So let’s agree, shall we, to unclench our death grip to the outline we’ve made for our lives. Let’s instead, roll down the windows, put our feet up on the dash and enjoy the ride. Let’s get a little wild and embrace the excitement that can (trust me, it can) come from not knowing where the next turn will be. Because who knows, what’s waiting around that unknown corner might just be the best thing that’s happened to you. All you have to do is go.

Faith, God, Identity, Spiritual Life

I Am A Dreamer

March 4, 2015

 

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I guess you could say that I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was seven I pretended that one of the canopy bed posts on my bed was Tom Cruise. We were dancing at some fancy gala, of course, and as the entire place had their eyes on the two of us, he dipped me real low and gave me the most glorious and life-altering kiss my young heart could conjure. In reality, when I leaned back for said mega dip and kiss, the post on my bed (AKA Tom Cruise) snapped and my entire canopy bed broke.

Through most of elementary and middle school I would sing as I walked to and from school so that if some famous movie director or talent agent was out mowing their lawn or getting their mail they would hear me and make me famous. I even went so far as to write a fan letter to a boy I saw in a movie, convincing myself that we’d become pen-pals and then eventually fall in love and get married and have famous actor babies. Side note: said actor only did the one movie and never acted again, so bullet dodge. 😉

As I grew older my dreams became less outrageous and a bit more grounded. It went from celebrity fairytale love stories and fame and fortune to just mild success with an epic everyday-type romance thrown in. Every relationship became THE relationship-every job opportunity became THE job I was supposed to do. My dreams may have moved out of the clouds a bit, but they were still very far from reality.

Life moved on as did many of my dreams. I began to see that so many of the things I had dreamed for myself weren’t coming true. Jobs weren’t working out, relationships were ending, success preceded failure and my desire to dream started to fade.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

For most of my life my dreams were set around me. How could I be happy? What would make MY life great? Although my dreams may have been praiseworthy, heck, even Jesus focused- they were missing one key element, Christ himself.

A dreamer can never reach the end of their rainbow if they first can’t acknowledge the Dream Giver. 

Look at the creativity of the Father. The way He paints the sky in oranges and reds during a sunset. The way a tiny seed can bring forth trees that provide food and nourishment. Humans who can think and feel and create just like God. He IS the original dreamer and He is also the giver of dreams.

We are constantly in a hurry to get to our dream-fulfilled that we forget to stop and look at where our dream began. 

Who gave you that love for music? Who put in you a fiery passion for missions or business? Who gave you the ache for a husband and family? The Dream Giver!

God is not out to destroy your desires. He’s the one who put them there! The place we tend to get so lost in is that He puts those desires there not so that we seek out their fulfillment but rather that we seek Him and allow our fulfillment in Him to bring about those desires.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” Psalm 37:23

Friends, let’s be women who dream big with God.

Women who live in huts in Africa.

Women who preach and teach to the masses.

Women who fight for injustice and poverty.

Women who act, write or sing words of truth and hope and freedom.

Women who are faithful to their husbands and loving to their children.

Women who take risks and don’t live in the safe.

Women who aren’t afraid of the impossible because we know that with God, ANYTHING is possible.

We have been granted the greatest of gifts my friends. We have been allowed to dream alongside the One who hung the stars and soothed the seas. All He asks is that we delight in Him, handing over our finite earthly dreams and allow the immense mind-blowing plans HE has for us become our dreams. Because whatever His best is far outweighs anything we could ever hope for. So will you give your him your dreams?

I may not understand a lot, but I do know this:

Who am I? I am a dreamer.

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

New Beginnings or A New Perspective

January 7, 2015

Female Hipster Taking Photo With Retro Camera

I hated 2014. I’m not talking about hate in the sense of “I hate when it rains” or “I hate when I get stuck in traffic” like I was annoyed by the past year. I mean I loathed 2014 with every fiber of being. As in when December 31st cam and I knew this year was coming to a close, I gave 2014 my middle finger and told it that I hope to never see it again. Yes, I hated 2014 that much.

You see 2014 is what I like to call my Year of Tears. I think sometime around July I asked myself how it was possible that my tear ducts hadn’t imploded from all of the crying I had done. 2014 was the year I became a grown up. It was the year where I learned of my sexual abuse, faced days and even weeks apart from my husband, and where God stripped me of everything I thought made me who I was only to create a clean slate in my heart and start over. I saw a lot of my ugly this past year, and let me tell you, it was NOT fun.

So yeah, I was really glad for the year to be over.

As 2014 kept drawing to a close, I kept saying to myself, “I can’t wait for 2015.” I think somewhere in my mind I thought that once that clock struck midnight that all of the hardships from this last year would magically disappear and I’d get this do-over. So I kept pushing, waiting and hoping for 2015 to arrive. Funny thing is, I woke up on January 1st to find that nothing had in fact changed at all.

The brokenness I came face to face with last year was more healed than before, but it was still present. Jeff’s job was still going to take him away from me, and I would still be the girl who had been molested twelve years ago. My past, my pains, they were still there. So how on earth was 2015  going to be any different?

At the top of every year I like to give myself a word or phrase to be my motto/theme for the year. A goal of what I hope the year to look like. Last years word was surrender…how ironic, I know. So as I sat with my Bible and the Lord and began to ask myself what I wanted 2015 to be for me, my word hit me like a punch to the face.

Perspective

Like I said, just because it was a new year, it didn’t mean I got a new life. In fact, there are still more tears to cry, more wounds to mend and more growth to be had. But what could change, was my perspective on each of the bumps in the road that lay ahead. Yes, Jeff will still be gone away at work BUT His work is helping to draw people to the feet of Jesus and keep a roof over our heads and make a way for me to stay home with our kids. Yes, I still have wounds to mend and more ugly to be stripped from my heart. But what joy to know that this breaking and mending will make me stronger, pushing me to the cross where I get to feel the loving embrace of my God so much more deeply. And yes, there will be tears, but maybe not just tears of sorrow this time. Maybe they will be tears of joy. Tears that allow me to weep with others, to love people well.

Psalm 119: 18 “Open my eyes that I might see the wonderful truths of your instructions.”

Oh to be a woman who sees!!

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This year, I hope to have the outlook to fix my eyes on the things unseen. To trust more and worry less. To laugh at the awkward and weep for the broken. I want to move my gaze off of myself and onto the face of Christ so that when the chaos that 2015 will inevitably bring comes, I’ll have my mindset in a place that is joyfully ready to take on whatever lay ahead.

Maybe you are hoping for 2015 to be that new beginning. Maybe, like me, you just need change your point of view.

You know, looking back on 2014, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. I guess I just needed a new perspective.

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