We Aren't Losing Anything

As this transitional phase comes to an end my kids are talking about leaving what we have found here.  It has definitely been an adventure and the people that have come into our lives during this season have been pivotal in our journey.  Now that the "crisis" seems to be over, there is some sadness to leave here.  What God has been telling all of us is that we aren't losing this, we have gained this.  There are some relationships that we will take with us.  There have been friendships formed that will last the test of distance.  We have been blessed here, I can see it in the eyes of my children, I can feel it within my own heart. There has been a lot of reconciliation here.  From family relationships to long lost friendships.  It's been a long six months.  It has proven to be one of those defining moments that changes you forever.

It is always bittersweet to step into a new chapter.  I remember flying to Puerto Rico almost 16 years ago, I was excited about starting my new life with my new husband, even as my Dad held me and cried. Everyone was at the airport to watch me leave, my family, my best friends. They have had to say goodbye to me so many times since then as the chapters of my life have unfolded.  Those who are lifelong, have never been too far away.  Even if distance was an issue, there are bonds that just can't be broken. The other thing that I have discovered is that you never lose them forever.  With this move I will be closer to one of those people that stood beside me at my wedding, that was at the airport that day when I left to start off on the adventure of marriage. More sweetness to add to the bitterness of leaving here.

Raising my kids in NC, they have missed out on really getting to have a relationship with my parents.  There is nothing cuter than my daughter curled up with my Dad on the couch giving Grandma grief.  My Dad started driving last year, and he is home for 3 days every three weeks and his granddaughter loves nothing more than for him to be here.  She always threatens to tie him to the bed so that he can't leave again.  There is something special in that bond.  Grandma has been great to take the kids on their special dates.  Trying to invest in them in ways that they weren't able to do when we lived so far away, and may not get to again over the next couple of years.

I guess the greatest joy of this, is that I know that I am not alone.  When we first moved to NC and started attending our church there I purposed myself to build friendships, to create a hedge of protection for myself.  I love people, I just do.  I love interacting with people, gregarious is a word used to describe me.  I love to observe and study relationships.  It's just part of who I am. The lie comes that I am walking into this with no friends.  The fact that I am moving somewhere new, again with no church family, no friends for my kids, or myself could be daunting and force me to live in the land of fear. However, I know better.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other." ~John 15:9-17

Jesus, calls me His friend.  No matter where I go, He goes with me.  I walk into this new chapter, knowing that I need to love His people, love the ones that don't know Him.  Love them like He loves me, knowing that there is possibility of pain and heartbreak.  Yet, knowing, that I know the Healer, I have a friend that will listen to my ever hurt without judgment and just pour out a love on me that can't compare to any of the scratches I may receive along the way.  That is my hope, that is where my joy comes from.  Grace and Mercy abound!

Realize that you are blessed and loved extravagantly, then bless others by loving them outrageously.



"The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." ~1 Corinthians 7:4-5

As I was switching over laundry just a bit ago this verse came to mind.  My husband and I have been separated since October 8th of last year.  There has been some visits through out that time but for all essential purposes, have gave mutual consent to the separation.  We knew that we were in transition, we knew that the kids and I needed to be here in Florida, we knew that he needed to stay there in North Carolina until the Army opened up a spot for him.  What we did carnally, was agree to God's greatest give of reconciliation. We had no idea at the time.  I wasn't sure we would survive the finances, the shutting down of our corporation, the eviction of our church family.  I wasn't sure that our marriage was going to endure losing everything.  There were moments that I wanted peace and rest at all costs, even if that meant my marriage.

God has been so good to meet me in this place, I know that sounds so cliche, however, it is so true.  I have spent almost 6 months allowing God to heal my heart, my pains, my wounds.  I have begun to pull back the bandages and realize the actual healing that has taken place.  I would never want to go through the process again.  It is always my prayer that I would learn the circumference of this tree that I am tied to.  But, I am thankful for the fruit of the prayers.  The opening of my heart and the reconciliation of a marriage that a year ago, was on a rocky road to no where.

I have talked before about the separating of the pens from the pencils, and how God has sat with me over the last few months and helped me sort my issues from my subscriptions. Day by day, little by little, he has pulled out the shame that was so intertwined into my core that I could barely breathe. He has purposed to show me the good and not just the bad in the snapshots of my life.  I had pictures I wouldn't look at, parts of town that I would avoid, just to not have to face the pain, or be overwhelmed with the anger and anxiety that they induced in me.  I haven't always gotten it right (somehow I feel relief that God never expected me to) and God has allowed healing into the places that I was willing to reveal and look through his lenses to see.

I believe that it's only through this separation that this healing could begin.  I can't tell you the hours that I spent full of anxiety about my marriage.  It became and idol and stole my time in a way that I am just beginning to understand.  I had to break agreement with a lot of judgments and inner vows I had made growing up.  I had to learn to let Jesus be my Lover, I have had to learn to lean on Him first.  I would never say it was easy.  I would never say that I have it all together now.  I am not the same.  I don't look at things the same way.  I don't want to be so desperate for my husband that I forget sight of my true love. The reintegration of our family will probably bring new challenges.  Old habits die hard.

"Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD." ~Numbers 6:8

I am thankful for the time alone learning to be heartsick for my Lover. I am also thankful that reconciliation has taken place and that I also long to be married to my husband for the rest of my life. It wasn't a pretty road, but it was one that brought me to the place that I could trust my heart, trust my husband, but most importantly trust my God.

I am blessed.



Patience, we are His Patients.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”- Jeremiah 17:7-8

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world. ~Helen Keller

Patience, to my understanding is the greatest test of faith.  I have heard many times not to ask God for patience because it isn't something that He gives you, it's something He teaches you.  We are still waiting for the next leg of our journey.  Still unsure where our final destination of this journey will put us.  The pure endurance of this process has begun to leave me feeling out of sorts.  I don't know why the last few days before change become the hardest.  Our patience is testing on a new level and it's easy to succumb to the anxiety.  I have listened to friends stories as the countdown to the homecoming of their loved ones coming back from "over there" and all of the stories seem to hit a crescendo in the final days.  I feel like I am beginning that season.  Just this morning I was begging God for something new, something to hold on to, to encourage myself with.  I am tired, at the end of myself, and I am beginning to lose my ability to make this okay for other people.  Making it okay for myself and my kids is tough enough.

So this morning I go into church and guess what the message is about.  Be patient. I so wish that I carried a Nerf gun with me to church this morning because I would have loved to shoot my Pastor.  That's nothing new.  Patience.  Wait. It's almost over.  Reminds me of one of my husbands compassionate coworkers when I was pregnant with my oldest son.  He told me I looked like I was going to explode.  I was going to explode alright, all over him.  I am thankful that no one has tried to encourage me during this season, or to tell me that it's all going to be okay, it's almost over because I am thinking that my reaction would remind me of the tension I felt that day.  Yes, I am about to explode but Captain Obvious I don't need you to remind me of that.

Patience is my biggest challenge of my faith.  Do I trust, yes.  Do I have faith, yes.  I know it's all going to be okay.  However, my preference would be that I would know NOW.  It feels like I am again (or still) in this holding pattern.  I am a mother of 3 kids, there are things that need to be arranged for where we are going.  There are doctors to pick, activities to enroll in. Sometimes I just wish that I knew where we were going so that I could plow through my list of things I need to do.  God however, has kept me on the table, He is still working on me.

I am His patient.  He is digging deep roots, He is trying to get me to relax and enjoy this time next to the river so that He can feed me from Himself.  I just want to jump off the table and run with my gown gapping in the back and He has His hand on my knee telling me to let Him finish the procedure.

Lord, keep me here as long as you need to.  I am here, enduring, trusting and receiving your love.  My receiver is wide open.  You are God and I am not, and I am more than okay with that.


Trusting God instead of Pleasing God

I have been in a struggle for the last few days.  I am reading TrueFaced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol & John Lynch. I am also doing a bible study called One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer.  TrueFaced teaches that you can't control sin, until you have entered the room of grace.  That until we truly understand God's definition of us we are only trying to control our sin, that we are trying to go into the room of good intentions.  This really lines up with my spirit and my own theology.  One in a Million I find to be trying to teach me to do the right thing in a feeble attempt of pleasing God.  I know that I am in the bible study for a reason but while doing my homework my heart is yelling, "I don't need more pressure to do the right thing, it's only through God's grace and his definition of me that enables a face to face relationship with Him."

We are a fallen people, we have sin in our lives, no matter how pretty we try to make it, how many discipleship classes we take, we can not control our sin.  When the mask begins to break and people begin to see the real us they shove us out the door because we are no longer willing to put on the fake Sunday morning smile and fake it until we make it.  God so wants us to be real.  Fragile, broken vessels that love Him and seek a relationship with our Savior, not do the best we can in an attempt to earn a gold star on the chart, that if we earn enough we will enter the gates of heaven.  He knows that we are broken, frail and hurting.  We are in his righteousness, He gave it to us and there is nothing that we could do to earn it, or to keep it, because it is already paid in full and when we get that, then we take our brokenness to Him, and He wraps His arm around us and says, "Yes, Beautiful One, I know, I know, but let's face this together as joint heirs, as friends.  Don't let it keep us separated but allow it to pull us closer together."

I don't know about you, but I beat myself up over my sin.  Daily, sometimes moment by moment.  My anxiety is sin, my mouth, Lord knows my mouth sins, I lean onto my own understanding way too often.  Then, I beat myself up over it.  If God were bigger in my life, if I take one more class, if I listen to one more lecture, maybe, just maybe the light will go on and I will be able to do the right thing and be qualified enough.  Jesus was the only human to be with out sin.  He had scars, but He had no sin.  Our sins, were the causes of His scars.  He paid the price for them already.  So trying to keep them at bay, trying to live in holiness without grace, we just find guilt and condemnation.  Satan says we can do it on our own, we don't need face to face, if we just get it right finally, then we will be better.

"In essence, God says,"What if I tell them who they are? What if I take away any element of fear in condemnation, judgment, or rejection? What if I tell them that I love them, will always love them?  That I love them right now, not matter what they've done, as much as I love my only Son? That there's nothing they can do to make my love go away?
"What if I tell them there are no lists? What if I tell them I don't keep a log of past offenses, of how little they pray, how often they have let me down made promises they don't keep? What if I tell them they are righteous , with my righteousness, right now? What if I tell them they can stop beating themselves up? That they can stop being so formal, stiff, and jumpy around me? What if I tell them I'm crazy about them? What I tell them, even if they run to the ends of the earth and do the most horrible, unthinkable things, that when they come back, I'd receive them with tears and a party?
"What if I tell them that if I am their Savior, they're going to heaven no matter what- it's a done deal?  What if I tell them they have a new nature- saints, not saved sinners who should now 'buck-up and be better if they were and kind of Christian, after all he's done for you!' What if I tell them that I actually live in them now? That I've put my love, power, and nature inside of them, at their disposal? What if I tell them that they don't have to put on a mask? That it is ok to be who they are at this moment, with all their junk. That they don't need to pretend about how close we are, how much they pray or don't, how much Bible they read or don't.  What if they knew they don't have to look over their shoulder for fear if things get too good, the other shoe's gonna drop?
What if they knew I will never, ever us the word punish in relation to them. What if they knew that when they mess up, I will never "get back at them?" What if they were convinced that bad circumstances aren't my way of evening the score for taking advantage of me? What if they knew the basis of our friendship isn't how little they sin, but how much they let me love them? What if I tell them they can hurt my heart, but I will never hurt theirs? What if I tell them I like Eric Clapton's music too? What if I tell them I never really liked the Christmas handbell deal with the white gloves? What if I tell them there is no secret agenda, no trapdoor? What if I tell them it isn't about their self-effort, but allowing me to live my life through them?" (TrueFaced pps 51-52)

Wallow in it today.  Wallow in His love.  Be blessed, then be a blessing. Love always wins.


Meeting Them Where They Are...

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." ~Luke 19:1-10

What an awesome thought.  Jesus comes to meet us where we are.  Through his love and grace He calls us from our perches to come walk with Him.  Jesus knew Zacchaeus was a tax collector, He knew where he lived and He went to Zacchaeus' home to meet with him.  He reminded him of his destiny and his place by stating the obvious, He called him 'a son of Abraham'.

During the entirety of Jesus' ministry He always sought out the lost.  Then through His love, they were drawn to Him.  Jesus wasn't a preacher on some high pulpit demanding that people come to Him.  He walked among the sinners, He wanted them to feel His love because it's only in that love that they were willing to drink of the Living Waters that He alone possessed.  Jesus isn't a man of condemnation, but of a love so strong that people began to examine themselves through His eyes.  He spoke blessing to them, with a love and a mercy that no one else could conjure up on their best day.

I love the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus went into a land that was not somewhere that Jews would have been caught dead.  He had a mission to free a woman from the bondage that had held her the entirety of her life.  He asked her to be truthful with Him about her lifestyle and when she was, He was able to administer a double dose of grace and mercy which changed her heart.  Even in a land void of the inheritance of Abraham, she knew of the Savior to come.  He met her at the well, knowing that she would be there and that she was searching for healing through her hurts.  He walked out of His way to meet with her.  He sought her out on her own terms and left her a new creation.

So often we want to sit in judgement of others especially of where they are in their journey to reconciliation.  Reconciliation takes a lifetime, if your receiver of love has been broken.  There is no way to force feed people any faster, as you try, their usual reaction is to push you away as they gag on the judgement that you are laying on them.  There is a moment in time when they have submitted to the Lord, and the Lord has met with them, the love of Jesus, the mercy and grace has to filter through every fiber of their being.  If they have been abused or neglected there are a lot of dark places that can take longer for that mercy and grace to filter into.  It doesn't mean that they aren't saved, it doesn't mean that they are lying awake at night praying for the grace and mercy, it may be as simple as they are processing at their own speed and that may not be the same speed as the person who is trying to minister to them.  Their need for ministry, their need to be fed may not be as great as the need of the one giving it.  A lot of people define themselves by the amount of ministry they can pour out.  In trying to live in holiness, to ease their own pain and shame, what they really do is bring more condemnation on the others around them.

People live in enough condemnation without us adding to it.  The Holy Spirit through love, grace and mercy brings a conviction to change.  It is out of knowing and coming to that understanding that people begin to reconcile with the Word of God.  Not through our battery.  We don't need to beat people us with our holiness.  We need to wrap them in our arms and remind them over and over again of the love of Jesus.  It is what spurred us on.  We don't need to be pharisees teaching law, we need to be the donkey that carried a loving sacrificial Jesus into their lives. Love them like Jesus, not beat them down like Satan.

Lord, let us meet people where they are.  Let us be willing to walk out of our own safety and learn to live a life that reflects You.  Let us not point fingers, let us not hold onto our way so tightly that we can't meet someone where they are.  Lord rescue us from ourselves so that we can be free to go share our testimonies and your love with others around us.  It is through you alone that people can enter into the gates of heaven.  Let us not assume that we  have it all figured out.  Enable us to get out of the way so that others around us don't see us, but see You. Let us live a life of sacrifice, so that the ones that we love will be drawn and not bullied into your kingdom.


JenniLee Personified

So what do you think of my new graphic?  I love her! Love her!  As I was searching the internet yesterday for a perfect personification of myself I stumbled upon deviantart.com.  Searching for women images can be rather uhm, scary.  There is a lot of pornographic images of women out there, photos, illustrations, characatures.  I live in my own little world and everyone here loves me, I know that stuff is out there but I am not exposed to it.

I really liked this piece for quite a few reasons, I like her hair.  It is similar to mine, I love her abs which are so not similar to mine.  I love the coffee cup.  I love the empty chair an the reserved sign that sits on the table.  It personified what I am feeling most of the time.  A favorite slang around here is, "He's here, he's just not here". Something we picked  up on our family mission trip to Nicaragua.  That's how I typically feel about my husband. He's here, in our hearts, our minds, our prayers, but physically he's not here and that leaves an empty chair and a reserved sign telling others that he will be back.  That chair is reserved for someone special and not just anyone will do. I also love that she has a smile on her face.  Because even through the wait, it appears she has found something amusing to keep her eyes on.

I related to her on such a personal level.  It reminds me of Barnes and Noble, and date night.  It reminds me of nights that I sleep alone, or times that I take the kids out without him.  It reminds me of sitting alone in church.  All things that I really abhor.  However, that smile, that cutting of her eyes, she doesn't have her eyes focused on the chair.

I have spent years fretting about my marriage.  When you have had a past like we have that fretting is just in innate habit that can't be controlled.  I never realized how much time I spent looking at the chair instead of letting other things catch my attention.  My kids are my comedians. They are so witty, and quick, and they do bring a lot of smiles to my face.  Daily.  However, the true thing that has caught my attention is so much bigger.

For the past few months, there has been very little distractions between God and I.  It's not that I have always felt him, but, there is a deep enough sense of faith in me to know that he is here.  He isn't limited to occupying a chair, he is omnipresent and able to be with me in every situation.  The closets that He has opened, the softening of my heart towards myself and then for others.  It has been powerful.  There is joy in freedom.  There is joy in looking at your greatest fears and your most deeply buried feelings of hurt, and allowing God to show you them through His eyes.  He is such a God of compassion.  We run down the path of destruction and He pursues us, He never "takes" us, but when we turn around and realize that we are in some dark alley, He is there, always, to "receive us".

Listen! My lover!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
My lover spoke and said to me,
"Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me." Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Though we might walk through the valley of death, He seeks us out, and He asks us to come with Him. Never against our own will.  The Lover of our souls, He calls us beautiful, He loves us in only a way that He can.  He meets us face to face.  What an awesome, extravagant, exhilarating love that He has for his bride.  So though I sit alone at the table, in my heart, I sit with peace because I know that I know, that I am loved, accepted and desired.  The man that I wait for, doesn't have to "make" me feel those things.  He has been released from the pressure of making me "feel" good enough.  Because with him or without him, I am secure in myself, and in the love of my Creator.  My husband, he just adds a spice of life and is the icing on the cake of life.

***I also want to give credit to the artist that did this piece.  He was very kind to a woman that wrote a rather random email asking to use his artwork.  You can find Joe and his pieces at http://poorboy-comics.deviantart.com/. Thank you Joe, for your prayers and for allowing me to showcase your piece.  Blessings on you, my friend.***



Excuse the Dust...

When I am really chewing on something you will find from time to time that decorating around here is my release.  So please pardon my activity and know that I am out to make this a cleaner, easier,  more friendly to read site.



Finding Hope and Strength When You Just Don't Wanna...

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." ~Galatians 2:20

Oh, thank goodness.  I woke up this morning feeling like a dead man walking.  I have been really struggling the last two days with just putting one foot in front of the other.  Last night I went to a new bible study at our church about Esther done by Beth Moore.  It was all I could do to get there.  It's not depression as much as it is just ready to push the "enough" button.  I am quickly tiring of this period of transition.  I know that I have submitted to the process, I am going to finish the fight, but some days you just look around and wonder if you are the only one standing there.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Grace is such an awesome thing.  It's God provision for days you don't wanna.  God says, "I know you don't wanna and that's okay, because I do." Then I get to write blogs about how "hohum" I feel and know that Christ is resting on me because I am boasting about my weakness.  *giggle*

All kidding aside, what an awesome God that we serve.  He says that there are going to be trials, there are going to be days that we are weak.  That we can't put one foot in front of the other.  There are going to be insults, hardships, persecutions & difficulties.  I don't believe that the God we serve wants to us "Buck Up" and "Fake it until we make it".  I think he wants us to be honest, with how we are feeling, with what we are going though, and turn to Him in those times and say, "Lord, I am here, broken and frail, and tired."

He wants us to share that with fellow followers.  It's when He gets to shine, it's when He gets the glory because we aren't doing it of our own accord.  He is growing us up.  Growing deep roots.  So that when the big storms come, that we are anchored in Him. It's only in that honesty with Him and others that we mature and learn to persevere.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4

Pure joy.  I don't know that I have considered this transition pure joy.  I am thinking that there will come a day that I will.  When I can look back on it and see how big God was in it.  Now I see it in glimpses but there will be a day when I look back and can see it in more fullness.  Today I just hold onto to the hope that day is coming.  There will be a day when I have my own kitchen again, when I have my own nest and that my family will be reunited.  Until that day there will probably be times that I long for the journey to be over.  That I long for the completeness of the transition.

I have always found strength in the arms of my husband, or in the voice of my Grandfather.  As God has removed those from my life I have had to learn to draw my strength directly from the source.  I have had to get comfortable on my knees crying out for His strength.  I am just a woman, with three kids, and two dogs, wandering in the desert crying out to our Savior and saying, "Lord, all of my pillars are gone". He is teaching me more and more every day through my weakness that He meets me, He sings over me, He draws me to Himself.  He receives me.  He doesn't take me, He receives me.  I just have to be willing to lay it all down and allow Him to love me.  Allow Him to show me his grace, through my shame, through my loneliness, through my ineptness.  He alone is where my strength and courage come from.

Be blessed and be a blessing, consider it pure joy to follow a Savior that leads you through the dailies and loves you with an extravagant love.  A love that always wins.



Scars, The Common Bond

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master." But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it." Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he focused his attention on Thomas. "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe." Thomas said, "My Master! My God!" Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing." ~John 20:24-29 The Message

Even after resurrection, Jesus had scars.  He literally had been to hell and back, had risen from the dead. Thomas would not believe it was Jesus until he himself could see Jesus' scars.  The wounds were no longer gashed open, they were no longer oozing, the had become scars.  Scars no longer hurt, but they become almost a calling card of our past.  They represent new life, they represent being more than an overcomer.

As I attending a retreat with our wonderful little church this weekend there was a time set apart to just go listen to what God has to say to us. I love nothing more than to hold a pen in my hand and allow God to write me love letter.  He is always so good to meet with me and to tell me His words.  That's one of the main reasons I blog, because even as I write I trust Him to talk me through my own crisis.  It's how He talks to me.  As I was sitting there and listening this is what He laid upon my heart.

"Sometimes when you think you know it all especially about yourself I will come and mess with your theology.  I love you unlike anyone else can.  When are you going to understand that? I have called you to myself despite your self, despite your scars, I have scars, too. Trust me.  It's not what you expect.  It's so much more. Quit limiting me in your life.  Take the lid off.  Hold on Beautiful. Fear not, let me handle this."

The realization is that I am still walking around with bandages on.  Not because I am still in pain, not because the wounds need care, but because I still have lived in shame of them.  I have hid them from others around me.  I have shared only glimpses of my life with others.  I have only given them my best side and have not shared the scars that have remained not only to remind me, but others around me, of my past.

Saturday night, after this nice conversation He and I had, there was an opportunity to open up to with someone and to share my testimony. I was able to share the view of some of my scars to someone who is still dealing with wounds that are very painful.  God was able to let my scars give this person hope that God is still healing people just like them.  What a beautiful restoration, for both of us.  I don't live in the land of disqualified just because I have scars.  They don't have to live in the land of pain because God is still in the healing business.   What a blessing, what a great moment of reassurance.

"And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die." Revelation 12:11

It takes Jesus, and us talking about our resurrection through Him, but the only way to have scars is to be hurt.  Sometimes that comes at the death of ourselves our desires, our dreams.  Sharing our testimony can feel pretty death like.  We just want to sweep it away.  We fret the judgement of man.  We wonder if we will be accepted, we live in the pain of our wounds instead of the salvation of our scars.  Scars mean we are still alive.  I have a friend whose husband is a wounded warrior.  Yes, he has scars, but scars mean that he is still here with us.  20 some surgeries later, his wounds are healing and all that will remain will be scars.  He has a testimony of conquering death and overcoming.  He doesn't see it that way, yet.  Until we accept our scars as a sign of life, we continue to lick them and keep them open.  We allow their pain to be an excuse to cause pain to others around us.  Collateral damages.

Wounds take time to become scars.  I envision WWII vets sitting together and showing each other the scars that give them a common bond.  They fought the good fight, they survived when they know so many others didn't and they share their scars as a testament of a life that continued.  I think that's what we the church need to be doing.  Sharing our scars, sharing the life that God has given us.  Not live in pain and shame of what God has done in our lives just because we don't want others to know of the places and the wars that we have fought. There is hope in scars.  There is life in scars.  There is a common bond in scars.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5



The Outsiders... "Wherever"

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”- Joshua 1:9

Do you know what word I love there?  One guess. Wherever.

Wherever you go God will be with you. What a great promise and one that my children and I have gotten to experience living out loud in our lives as we have been on this leg of our journey.  We have seen God's hand in our deliverance.  We have met him face to face at the kitchen table during devotion time and we have met him face to face in the new people that we have met along the way.  He is so good at giving us reminders of His love and His provision in a time that we have needed it the most.

My oldest son last night went to worship practice at our little local church here.  Here is his Facebook status from when he got home "Wow.... Words could not possibly desscribe how magnificent to nights worship practice was, and whoever said that worship "practice" was just for practice.... They lied,..... But feel special now as the sound board guy after what Jeff said to me :). Today... Was a great day". My son, is a tech head.  He loves to do the sound board and has been blessed to be able to do it wherever we have landed.  But last night this man Jeff, a visiting Pastor put it in a new perspective for him.  He told him that he was a worship leader because without him, there would be no sound.  Sounds so simple yet it hit him so profoundly.  As they were practicing Alex said that the atmosphere changed and they actually went into a time of worship themselves.  Keep in mind this young man of mine is just a mere two weeks from turning fifteen and although he has been through the wringer, missing his dad, starting all over with friends, last night he worshiped.  It just does a mom's heart good to know that along the way, wherever he goes, God and his extravagant love has found the heart of my boy.

My kids through this whole process have not lost faith in God.  We have some awesome conversations in the mornings as we read through the Bible one book at a time.  My daughter, yesterday said, "The words obedience and boundaries are every where in here", referring to the Bible.  We were reading in the book of Judges and she was amazed that the two words that I harp on are right there, God is always hurt by our disobedience but through his compassion for us, He always creates a wherever for us to get out of our best laid plans and follow Him.

We have realized that we outgrew where we came from.  The wisdom, the strength, the faith that has bloomed from our transplant has shown us that it was God's timing. I am writing again, the kids are seeking God again, we are allowing God to heal the wounds of our move.  My kids have very few memories of church other than where we left.  I spent years training them to grow on that post, and it has taken close to 18 months to teach them that new territory gives you more space and can blow the lid off of the restrictions that they felt before.   We have realized that there is a world outside of what they knew, we have learned that there are people out there, that have a need in their lives for an outrageous ragamuffin family like us.  We have been able to plant many seeds of salvation in people.  We have been blessed and we have blessed others. God is good, all the time.

The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3

So take your claws out of the door jam.  Allow God to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Be blessed and be a blessing.  Love always wins.



Time for Change? Hope?

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.” But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.  ~1 Samuel 8:4-21

Somehow, we as humans forget to look at the past and learn from it.  We tend to do the same things over and over again and fall in the same holes.  We look to a man, a king, a president, someone tangible that can save us and fight for us.  We want a knight in shining armor, to run with the chariots and fight our battles for us.  We don't want to meet with God face to face, we want a Moses that will climb to the top of the mountain for a face to face meeting and then while he is away, we look for something new to replace him, we settle for golden calves and the glow of Moses instead of lacing up our hiking boots and climbing to the top of the mountain for our own "Come to Jesus" meeting.

The more I read the news lately the more I am ignited to share the gospel across the planet.  Haiti, Chile, landslides.  Do I have a heart for missions?  Maybe, I think that our everyday lives are mission trips.  I believe that God is calling all of us to lay down our comforts of home and to engage in the battle and quit waiting for someone else to do it for us.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." ~Romans 12:1-2 The Message

We are an apathetic people.  We focus on the small details and forget to look up and ask why we are here.  What do you have for me today.  Put me in coach I am ready to play.  We are content to sit in the stands and watch other people score touchdowns.  We are willing to watch a state of the union address and condemn and have opinions but we aren't willing to do anything to change it. We are willing to sit in the pew as the pastors tell stories of meeting with Jesus.

So where does our hope come from?  We lose hope in Jesus within us if all we do is look at our circumstances.  If all we do is look at our checkbooks, if all we do is watch the news, and never do anything to change it. I am so ready for hope and change.  I am realizing that it has to come from the Jesus within me.  It won't come in the form of a man, I have to pick up with sword and fight my own battles against the deceiver.  I have to be willing to make the hike, to take my own tools to make the sacrifice and have hope enough in God that He will meet me there and supply the sacrifice.  My own flesh is what he is asking for this today.  Am I willing to be a sacrifice? Am I willing to stand near the burning bush?  Am I willing to come face to face with the Pharaoh and demand freedom? Or am I just going to sit back and complain?

King Jesus is all I need.  Redeemer, Lover of my soul. Heal me so that I can go into battle, I know where to come for my next set of wounds.

Be blessed then be a blessing. Love always wins.



Family of Orphans

Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:35-36

Growing up in the 70's had a few challenges.  It has taken me years to realize that not everyone grew up in the "craziness" that I did.  There was a lot of drug and alcohol use in my family.  Drugs and alcohol can pervert, dilute and breed discord in an otherwise normal situation.  It can take a normal family, open to the door to things that you could never imagine and can leave a generation of orphans that didn't grow up with God as the plumb line in their life.  It breeds and grows exponentially feelings of rejection and abandonment.  It destroys marriages, it destroys families, and it kills people that we love.

I was talking to my cousin yesterday and we both admit that Jerry Springer has nothing on us.  We could be a week long special, there is way too much craziness and tragedy to be in one episode.  I hadn't talked to him in years.  Life has dealt us both different hands, we have moved in different directions, but as kids we were raised almost as brother and sister and despite all of the crazy there is comfort in talking to someone that knows where you come from.  We can talk about the loss of his mother. We can talk about wanting to go on Dance Fever when we were in elementary school.  Somehow his voice on the other end of the phone brings back so many memories of my childhood, usually with him right by my side.

When tragedy strikes we all deal with it in our own way.  God has a different path to healing for all of us.  When my aunt, his mother, was murdered in 1991, we both had to deal with it the best way we knew how.  There is no guilt or condemnation in that statement.  She was his mother, she was my favorite aunt.  She was the one that was able to talk to me about things that my mother couldn't talk to me about.  I loved her.  However, when the dust settled, I still had my mother.  He didn't.  He floundered. I got married and left the area.  I had kids and got busy, he is still single and lives the "Salt Life".

The amazing thing to me, the humbling love of God, has brought us back together all of these years later.  I thought I had lost him forever, even wondered if he was still alive.  The realization is that I had been feeling "set out" by my family essentially since my aunt had been killed.  He had, too.  Despite the fact that there were other aunts, we both lost our "core family" in that moment.  I have never regained a feeling of "extended family" again.  I have walked in pain of it, under the surface for close to 20 years now.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ~John 14:18

What an awesome promise. Yesterday when we were getting off the phone, my cousin said, "God Bless You", and in that moment I realized that we are both orphans adopted into the family of God. Cousins by birth, brother and sister by circumstance, both reconciled by the blood into the same family.  I am thankful and I am blessed.



Hurricane by needtobreathe


What do you do?

What do you do when you don't feel encouraged and everything around you seems to be empty?  Have you ever opened your Bible and it's just words?  Have you have had that one last person pat you on the back and tell you it's going to be okay?

Most of the time I am up, chipper and ready to take on the world.  Today is one of those days when I am sulking and just pouty.  Sometimes circumstances become bigger, sometimes we just focus on them too closely.  Sometimes the pain that we have kept hidden comes to the surface.  I once had someone tell me that it's like holding a beach ball under water.  It takes effort to keep it down, when all it wants to do it rise to the surface.  It reminds me of child birth, the moments preceding the birth the mother typically tells everyone she just wants to go home.  That's how I feel.  I just want to go home.  How about the Israelites coming out of the Exodus.  It was fun at first but when the going got tough they bad mouthed Moses and expressed a desire to go back to Egypt.

Sometimes when the challenge to begin a new life gets to be too much, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and his "funnel" to get us to the promised land, we want to throw up our hands and push the easy button and go back to what we used to know.  Overwhelmed and anxious we want to return to the comforts of what we know even if, even if, it was a bad place that held us in bondage.

Heart break presents itself in different ways.  When we got the news that Ande was going back into the Army I sent out an email to a handful of people that at one time played a huge role in my life.  Their lack of response, I am working through.  It reminds me that I can't go back through doors that God has shut.  The the life that I left behind is over.  Much like a baby can't crawl back into it's mother's womb, I can't return to the places that one brought comfort, it seems the more I try the more pain it causes me.

So the process begins, again.  So the plan of the day is to spend some time in front of the dryer (it's an alter God and I created years ago) and to allow him to cleanse the wound so that He can begin to heal it.  I am thankful to a God that has a desire to heal all of the hurt and to not leave me in the corner chewing the skin off of my own ankles... although sometimes that's all I want to do.