I can’t be all of these things

my-soul-thirsts-for-youMy heart was pretty scattered that day. I wanted an unhurried heart, but my body was fighting it.  I felt pulled in so many directions, and each direction was calling for my full attention.  I had sliced and served myself to one too many areas;  The pieces of me were getting smaller and smaller. I decided to get a fresh breath of air to clear my head, and stepped outside with a mug of coffee.  I sat in the cool morning sunlight pondering all this. I went over all my roles…I’m a wife, a mother, I’m still a daughter and a sister… I am a friend…and I have also felt called to serve here and oh yeah, that…but maybe I need to do…and I think you are calling me to be a…and that’s kind of scary.  Lost in the steam swirling from my cup, I glanced upward and let my thoughts cry out to God.  “So, I can’t be all of these things? Lord, who do you want me to be? Who am I?”

All of a sudden, your words fell.  They fell silently on my heart like the first drop of a soft rain. It was just a gentle nudge. A still small quiet voice in my head answered back, “You are mine.”

My heart was humbled and full all at the same time.  Did I hear that right?  You were really listening God?  You really care about me and my heart’s ramblings?  And the thing that matters most to you God, more than all these roles and areas where I serve you, is just that I am yours?

No wonder I’ve been panting Lord, I am thirsty for you.  Psalm 42: 1-2 (NIV) paints this kind of thirst beautifully, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”   The Message Bible translates this verse, “I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.”  Here I’ve sat wondering about the how and the what that you have wanted for my life, and all the while the thing that you wanted most was (and what you continue to want is) my heart.  You want to quench my thirst.  May I take in gulps of your love today Father. Being your child is the only role that fills me with your living water and leaves me thirsting no more. Let me just bask in this knowledge today.  I am first and foremost your child.  That is my greatest role. “Being yours” is and will be my greatest accomplishment here on this earth.

Lord, I want to gulp down your love today.  I want to drink in so much of you that it runs out of the corners of my mouth.  I am honored to be your child, your creation. You created me with limits, but you are the almighty.  There are no limits to your strength and power, and love.  You alone can fill my needs and the desires of my heart.  When I look at my body and my skills Lord, the world might tell me I don’t have what it takes.  You tell me I have the only thing it takes.  When I say I don’t know who I am supposed to be, You tell me “you are mine.”   Thank you Jesus.  May I bask in this truth today.  Amen.

Wondering how to know for sure that you belong to God? Continue reading “I can’t be all of these things”

Need a little help with happy?

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Are you happy today? On a scale of 1-10 how happy are you?  If you are like me, that scale can fluctuate all day long.  Or sometimes, I can even get stuck in an unhappy mood.  Truth be told, I’m not in a very good mood today.  I would probably circle a “3” on a scale of happiness right now.  A situation rubbed me the wrong way yesterday, and I still feel a little irritated about it today.  I’m a little mad just thinking about it, and I just don’t feel that happy.  But I am a Christian.  Should I really be at a “3”?

The more I read the bible, the more I see real life.  In John 16:33, Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that you will have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples after he foretold of his departure.  He explained that they would grieve and experience rough times in the days to come, but that’s not where the story would end.  Those painful days would be a small piece to their greatest joy.  Jesus would soon reveal his great love for them (and for us) on the cross, and he would (and will) return again.  Jesus explained that he would give them (and us) the kind of joy that no circumstance or person could take away.  Jesus stated in John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”   He wasn’t telling the disciples that that they wouldn’t and shouldn’t experience unhappiness.  God created man, and the human body was created with emotions.  Jesus was giving them hope in the difference between feelings of happiness and an everlasting joy.

I want the kind of joy that can’t be taken away? Don’t you?… Continue reading “Need a little help with happy?”

Where are you Lord?

footprints-psalm-77_19Uh-oh Lord, here comes a big one! Some days it doesn’t take long to know that this day is going to be a real doozy. Whether physical circumstances or perhaps an emotional tidal wave, these swells can hit us out of nowhere. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, worry, fear, anger, or frustration come and sometimes they crest into waves that can knock us off of our feet and threaten to take us under.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I see it coming, and I feel that all I can do is hold my breath and steady myself for the crashing wave.  And sometimes we do go under, but God promises us his presence and a way out of the mighty waters. But doubts tend to creep in through the cracks of despair.  Sometimes I  find myself thinking, “Are you still there Lord, because I can’t see you!” I love that these raw and honest thoughts are recorded in the bible too.  Psalm 77 is one such example.

Continue reading “Where are you Lord?”

When Enough is Enough

2Trying to change our circumstances can be a little like trying to kick down a brick wall with a bare foot. It is probably not going to be successful, and is certainly going to be painful. So now you have brick wall and a sore foot.  There are times in our life that we find ourselves crying out in pain, begging God to change our circumstances. Perhaps you are there right now. “Lord, I can’t do this anymore!” We’ve all been there.  Maybe you are there right now.  We push with all our might against the rough brick, hoping for signs of crumbling mortar to no avail. “Please, take this away God! It hurts too bad!”
A similar prayer can be found in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Paul pleaded three times for God to take away a thorn in his flesh that was causing him anguish. The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Can I be very real and say that in the midst of hurting, that answer can seem a little unfair. But these words appeared to be a balm for Paul’s soul. Digging a layer deeper can help us see God’s blessing through these words Jesus spoke to Paul.

1Sometimes a look into word use and meanings can help us dig:

My grace —-(greek word used here for grace is “charis”-his favor, or gift. It is given. Interestingly “charis” is used only in the new testament.

is sufficient for you,—– Note the present tense. (greek meaning of sufficient used in this verse holds a meaning of contentment. His gift to us is not just enough to get by, Jesus is blessing us by being our power source and source of contentment. There is not a circumstance in which joy cannot be found in Christ.

for my power—–Whose? Jesus, What? Power-his MIGHT

is made perfect in weakness—–“made perfect” translates from the greek word that means to be complete, finished and fulfilled.

Perhaps the reason Paul was so readily able to accept Jesus’s answer was because he understood it as a blessing. Jesus essentially told Paul, “I know what I am doing. You see this as pain that needs to be taken away. But I see how I can use this pain to work in you and through you. I need to keep this part of you broken for a while so I complete the good work I have begun in you (Philippians 1:6). This same kind of power, is what I used to raise my Son Jesus (Romans 8:11), so I don’t want you to miss out. I know it hurts, and I hear your every prayer. I catch every tear that you shed (Psalm 56:8). So true to my nature of mercy, I bless you with my joy so that in my grace you are content in the midst of the pain you are feeling, and by that you will have everything you need to make it through this season.”  The next time we cry out to Jesus, how will we respond to his answer?  If we are stuck with a brick wall, the blessing spoken to Paul may be the very balm our soul needs.

Worth the Wait

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“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way”  Psalm 142:3

The next time you are faced with a big decision, wouldn’t it be nice to have a flow chart from God? Each step from start to finish clearly stated in bold text with bright arrows pointing out the path?

As believers we are called to follow God’s will for our lives, but understanding His will and what step to take next can be really challenging, if not down right frustrating.

There are times when we literally find our foot dangling in the air, ready to take an obedient step, but no step is yet to be found to place our foot upon.  So we wait…and, after a while that foot can get a little tired dangling out there!  Those toes start to tingle and fall asleep, our knee grows a little squeaky, and our thigh muscle tightens in pain.  Our balance begins to wobble, arms start flapping, and by now the muscles in our torso are holding on for dear life. The waiting is not easy.  But God promises us something about seeking God’s will and it is worth the wait.

1 John 5:14-15 tells us we can have confidence in knowing that our prayers to follow God’s will are answered.

Proverbs 3:5 shows us what that looks like as we go about our daily life.  It’s a commonly read verse, but let’s dig deeper to the marrow:  Continue reading “Worth the Wait”

Spring Forth New Life in Me Again

Spring Forth New Life in Me Again

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

P1160506What plans could God have for such a seemingly worthless stump? Just look at it. How could that ever spring forth life again? Would you believe that it did?

This stump is tucked away in the corner of my back patio.  It is all that remains now of a once thriving Magnolia tree.  It was perfectly healthy, and the beautiful southern icon boasted its velvety white blooms season after season. Unfortunately it was growing in the wrong place.

Hmmm…I think I’ve been there.  May I turn a lifeless exhale into a new breath of trust in you.

The tree was planted years ago, decades perhaps before I would ever know this would one day be my home.  It is funny to think, but I was probably a child at the time.  But it was planted too close to the house, and a few months ago we realized that it was now endangering our home’s foundation and must be removed.

It was heart wrenching to watch the men with chainsaws cut and haul it away.  The last step in the tree removal was a deep “X” cut in the stump for salt to be poured in thereby snuffing out any final life.  Gone…or so I thought.  Hope is not exactly what comes to mind when looking at a barren stump. But its creator wasn’t finished. Seemingly dried up seasons in my life have looked similar to this stump. In these seasons, I  have often wondered how God could ever bring forth fresh life.

Tucked deep within the stump, God was still at work. A few weeks later I noticed a fresh clump of green magnolia leaves emerging P1160505from the landscape tarp.  “How in the world?” I wondered.   With great excitement, I carefully removed & replanted the shoots from the stump.  I was reminded of Isaiah 43:19…

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

What hope that verse gives us when we think all hope is gone.  While we wander in our wasteland, God is already at work, ready to spring up something new.  May I turn a lifeless exhale into a new breath of trust in you!  All those weeks of a seemingly dead stump, and God was growing a life that was ready to begin anew.  In His timing, God lovingly grew fresh new shoots and provided the essential sunlight and nourishing rains. In His timing, God provided a way in the wilderness, and provides one for us too.  The tender new shoots were lifted out of the wasteland and placed in a land of plenty.  Tucked tightly in new rich new soil, this beautiful tree basks in God’s richness of hope and blessing for the years to come of its life of “something new.”

Lord,  spring forth new life in me.  Remind me of your presence today.  It is so hard to see your hands at work in seasons that feel so dry.  There are days that I wander in the wilderness & wasteland and cannot see a way out.  When I am hurting or feel confused, remind me of your words penned in Isaiah 43:19.  Change me from the inside out.  May I turn a lifeless exhale into a new breath of trust in you.  May I place my hurting and confusion at your feet today and trust that you are at work, even when I can’t see or feel your presence.  May I be patient to wait for your timing.  I trust that you are at work doing a new thing in my life even as I pray these words.  Spring forth in me a new tender shoot of life that is full of hope and peace and joy.       ~Amen

A Stale Bread Kind of Day

You know that kind of day…P1160485you feel a little dried up, not really useful or purposed, you just feel a little crumbly and worn out. And then it hits you.  It’s a stale bread kind of day. And bless your heart, no body wants to feel like stale bread.

Stale bread, just the sound of it makes my shoulders droop.  Poor little stale piece of bread.  He sits all alone on a cold plate with no hope of ever becoming a sandwich or even a piece of toast. Its corners are stiff and dry.  There is no longer even a squishy middle for snacking fingers to tear and roll into a doughy ball.  No, not much use for a piece of stale bread.    Do you ever feel a little dry and crumbly? More often than not, we are a little spiritually dry as well? How do we ever bounce back?  Continue reading “A Stale Bread Kind of Day”