Friday, September 07, 2012

When the Prodigal Doesn't Return

What if the prodigal doesn't return?
What if she turns hard and runs fast without looking back?
What if healing doesn't happen?


What if we spend hours on our faces before this great God and the lost one still isn't found?
Do we cry out harder?
Or do we sit in a corner and cry tears of defeat?

Sometimes trust doesn't seem like enough and fear consumes.
We don't know what to do next.
And our hearts break for the very thing that breaks His--
the one who's abandoned His love.

Rebellion is deeply rooted within all of us, His creation, and we are always reaching for the forbidden fruit, wondering if God really means what He says.  
Is there something better out there?
Something else that will satisfy our hunger?

We are all runners.
Prodigals.
And we all desperately need to be rescued.

So what if the searching one seems too far gone and we lose hope?
What then, Lord?

We do not lose heart! (2 Cor. 4:1)


Cause us to return to Yourself, O Lord, and we will return!  (Lamentations 5:21)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Among Us

I look into his clear blue-gray eyes, and I see an emptiness.  This one who brings the laughter and stories to us is, today, full of sorrow and weighed down with burden.

Can I please tell a story today? It's kind of long, but I really need to tell you guys what's going on.

And he hangs his head in sadness, leaving us to wonder what has happened.

So, we set aside the lessons on Plato and censorship to meet our brother in his sorrow, ready and waiting with open arms.

What follows breaks our hearts.

A friend, broken and battered, has entered his world and he's heavy now.  Tears are forced back, but it's clear that emotion is strong.  He's hurting and crying out for this tiny community, this family, to comfort and pray.

So we do that thing we always do, the thing that defines our group of 9-- We grab the hands and bow the heads and take it to our Jesus, the all-powerful Healer.


And there are tears and broken voices, and there are those without words because emotion runs too deep, but most of all, there is peace.  For within that circle, we have found solace and rest.  Jesus meets us in this circle every single time, and we always come back for more.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.. (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV)

The hem of Your robe is where our healing lies... Our God, you are here, and in your power, you move... Your love is moving among us... -Christy Nockels

~~~
Linking up today-
Scribing the Journey
New Life Steward
God Bumps and God Incidences

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Indeed, I Cannot!


I sit here and want to shout it to the world that He is great and holy and mighty and AMAZING, and I feel this burning passion inside of me to proclaim His name.  Yet nothing really satisfies that flame.  I find myself wanting nothing but him and nothing but to praise His name, and I wonder if this is what heaven is like.  We will only want to praise Him and be in His glory.  Nothing else will even come close.  I could speak words all day long that show my knowledge and amazement, yet NONE of them would suffice.  Nothing I am capable of saying will truly give Him the honor and glory He deserves.  But I can't help but try.  Because my soul gives me no other option.  

I crave fellowship with real, genuine Christians.  My soul wants to have like-minded souls to connect with.  Who really get it.  Who really desire Jesus more than anything.  People who read His Word because if they don't, they feel empty.  Oh, the time I've wasted trying to hold together relationships that were all wrong for me, all the while desperately hoping for people who shared my conviction.  Hoping for people who really know what it means to walk the journey with someone and really bear burdens, no matter how dark.  I'm tired of testing friendships with the world's standards and I'm tired of wishing.  If it's going to happen, it's going to have to start with me.  I have to step out and deepen the relationships He's clearly given me.  I have to be willing to abandon all for Him, and part of that is abandoning my fears.  Complete freedom within the body of Christ is the goal.  It's possible if we go after it.  There are no walls holding us back!  There is complete freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is!

When I think about the trials I've endured, I KNOW He's allowed it all to bring me to Him.  To put me flat on my face before him so I would really long for him.  There have been times, at rock bottom, when I've been so alone and the only one I could cry out to was him.  It's those times that made me love Him so deeply.  And now, on the other side, I do know what it means in James 1 to rejoice in trials!  He really is my everything, my foundation, and He permeates my life.  Completely.  I don't even know who I am anymore because He's so completely altered my thinking and my life.  My story needs to be told because it brings such glory to Him.  I want the people I love to know what He's done.


"But if I say, 'I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,' His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I CANNOT." 
-Jeremiah 20:9


~~
I sent these thoughts to a couple of friends, and they both told me that I needed to publish them.  While I hesitated because they seem rambly and unorganized to me, maybe they will meet you where you are and bring encouragement today.  Glory to God!

Monday, August 20, 2012

You Are What You Eat!

The sweet smell wafts into my classroom from the kitchen next door.  As I hear the beep-beep-beep and the microwave door opens, I know immediately what's being warmed.  Someone is about to eat a cinnamon roll.

And I'm starving!

My bag of carrots is inedible, so a snack is out of the question.  I've just finished a conversation about Oreos and donuts, and chocolate chip pumpkin bread was brought in by seniors this morning for breakfast.  And I'm famished.  This is not my day...

As she walks by my door, the smell lingers and I can hear my empty stomach growl.  It's two hours until lunch, and I know I can easily go grab one of those cinnamon rolls, satisfying my hunger and my craving.


I know what you're thinking.  JUST EAT THE CINNAMON ROLL ALREADY!  But the thing is that I don't eat sugar.  Any sugar.  AT ALL.  And I know that if I eat just one sugary treat, my body will be very, very unhappy.  Months ago, I cleansed myself of anything that doesn't belong there.

My mind wanders to a conversation I've had earlier today about holiness and being set-apart.  It's the taking out of the unholy, the unnatural, the things that don't belong.  My flesh adamantly wants to fill the hunger with the glittery pleasures of the world.  My nature wants those sticky, gooey cinnamon rolls more than anything!!!

But the worldly pleasures don't belong in me.  They will make my spirit sick.  God demands holiness (1 Peter 1:16).  He desires purity and anything else is sin.

So when she passes with her dessert that calls my name so loudly, I will ignore the temptation and remind myself that refraining from the impure is always right and always worth it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I've Come Back to God

We stand in a circle as we have many days before, and we find laughter, stories, and smiles.  It's been two months of summer since we last saw the walls of this room we made our home, the floor where we sat seeking His face daily, yet nothing has changed.  It's still home, and here we are, seeking again.

We've gathered to pray, to send one out who will soon make his home in a new state.

Yet tonight there is something different afoot. Something more than the laying of hands and goodbyes. Something we aren't aware of yet.

Something amazing. 

One stands smiling and shares.  He speaks those words that leave me speechless.

I've come back to God.

And my mouth drops open as cheers go up wildly around me.  These precious ones have poured their hearts out to their Savior for months, hoping against hope that the answer would come.  That one of the nine, the prodigal, would come back to the fold and believe.  That doubt would fall away and Christ would reign again.

As the words enter my head, time seems to stop as I take it all in.  What a priceless gift they've been given, to see their prayers answered!  Looking at their faces, I realize that this will change them.  It will change them all.  Their faith will soar because they've bowed the knee and cried the tears and Jesus has bent down to earth to redeem!  He's healed. He's restored. He's reminded us that yes, He does hear from heaven when we pray.

And for the rest of the evening, there is excitement in the air as they share the news with others.  I see joy in their eyes as they stand in awe of this God.  I see love in action as they welcome the lost one.  But most of all?  I see the Church right there in my classroom.  And there is nowhere I would rather be.

(The 9th just had surgery, so she wasn't able to make it, 
but she IS in the picture!)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Nothing to Fear [lessons from an old country dog]

BOOM!


The moment it thunders, I hear it.  The pitter-patter of four little paws, hurrying down the hallway to find me.  My been-around-forever good, ole' country dog is terrified of storms.

So as I sit here listening to the rain outside my bedroom window, she sits at my feet, tiny heart racing, snuggled up to me as closely as she can be.

In her fear, she knows the place of safety.  She knows I'm her refuge.  She knows that as long as I am near, no harm will come.



My mind wanders to my all-powerful, completely-in-control God, who is MY refuge and MY safety.  And suddenly, all of the things flying around inside my head, the what-ifs and the maybes, they fade away while I rest in His arms.

I have nothing to fear, for my God is with me.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress,
I will never be shaken.
~Psalm 62:1-2

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Notebook

New
New notebooks, new pens, new books.
There is just something about the start of a new school year, even as a teacher, that heightens the senses and puts a little extra joy in my step!



Today, I will take a deep breath and walk through those doors, bag filled with the new, ready to begin again.  It's spring in my heart and the winter is long gone.

And as I open my notebook to that first fresh blank page, I will fight the urge not to write on it for fear that it will lose that pristine feeling.  As this year moves on, I know there will be mistakes, trials, and days so tough that I'll come home and not want to move for hours.  But those things won't keep me from moving forward, from writing on that clean page.

For life is meant to be written on, not left blank, and God is the one who pens the words.  It's His hand that writes on my life.  It's His power that makes all things new.  It is He who calls, equips, and strengthens.

So if you are in a dark and dingy place today, rest in the truth that your Savior delights in new beginnings, full of grace and mercy.  Open your heart to Him and see what a wonderful story the Author will create!



Monday, August 06, 2012

The Worst Girl Here

The 8 of us sit on the bleachers that surround the basketball court, words of judging and King David from our lips to their ears.  We're sharing truth, and I can see Him speaking.

And one precious daughter of God, one who struggles with choices, opens her heart to share.  She's apologetic, yet the words flow anyway.  When her confession is finished, 

"I'm probably the worst girl here.  I'm sorry if that's not who you thought I was, but it's the truth."

Silence.
Shock.
Sympathy?

This young woman, not yet 16, feels the shame of her past sin, the weight of the world, and nobody knows what to say.


To be honest, she's experienced more in her short life than I have in mine, and it would be easy to judge her for her decisions.  

But we are called to love.

"You are judging by appearances.  If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do." (1 Corinthians 10:7 NIV)

And she, my dear sister, speaks softly, breaking the silence....

"All sin is the same.  Sin is sin."

And those words stick to the air like humidity on a hot Alabama afternoon.  More silence, but it's clear that we're all thinking, taking it all in.  We, too, were in need of rescue.  We were dead in our sin and content to be so.

Until the we lifted our weary eyes and looked upon His dying face, allowing His righteousness to cover our shame.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32 ESV)
~~~

My friend Barbie@My Freshly Brewed Life has so kindly asked me to be her Inspired Blogger for the month of August!  Please hop on over to her blog to read her words about her Savior.
~~~

Joanna, my beautiful friend with a servant heart, is heading off to college this week and would like to share her journey.  Check out her blog and send some encouragement her way!





On In Around button

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Why Don't We Ask?

What do you do when it happens?
When the thing you've spent hours and days and years praying desperately for actually happens...
The kind of answer that makes your mouth drop open and your eyes fill with tears.
Yeah, THAT kind.


God is able to do anything and everything BEYOND what we can even imagine!
So why don't we ask?
Why don't we really believe that He will work miracles in our lives?
Why are we so short-sighted that we miss the chance to see just how much He will do in our lives?

Lord, help our unbelief.
Heal our hearts.
Show us Your glory.


WIPWednesdayLife: Unmasked

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Welcoming Seasons of Change


Autumn brings a wearing away, a breaking down, a preparing for stark cold days to come.
Ground freezes in winter and the snow falls, saturating the ground before the growing comes.
Spring brings new life budding and green surrounds our hearts that have longed for new life.
Finally, summer bathes us in heat and sunshine, allowing vegetation and long, beautiful nights.


Seasons are expected, and while you may tire of scorching summer heat or dark, dreary winter, you never question the coming of the change.  You long for the new, the promised.  You know that this, too, shall pass.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the seasons in our lives.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated change.  I’m the kind of girl who longs for forever friendships and, if I could, I would put down roots in a lovely little house somewhere and never leave.  I get used to the way things are, and I don’t want to lose anything I have.

But He’s been teaching me to expect the change.

Honestly, since I started viewing life through a new lens, I’ve gained an entirely new perspective.  When you reluctantly say goodbye to the lifelong friend, you can wrap the years up in a neat little box and thank God for that season.  When you're in the midst of trial and suffering, you know that winter will, at the appointed time, turn to spring and new life will appear.  When you begin a new, somewhat scary adventure in your career, you know that this is the season He’s been preparing you for, and you submit joyfully.

The seasons are part of God’s master plan, the big picture.  Each season has its purpose.  We know that summer holds warm sun and autumn holds howling winds; we never have to question or wonder if it’s right because the Maker of the seasons is in complete control.  He paints the canvas of our lives, all the weavings in and out of the lives of others, and each stroke is beautiful and perfect. 

So when you lose or struggle, remember the truth that my God is fully sovereign and that everything is  in His hands.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
Life: Unmasked




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Come Away with Me


He calls me from darkness, from the chains of sin, from the life of nothingness.  He sees my sin, my filth, my life of prostitution; yet He seeks me out and desires my love.  (Hosea 4:10-11)

Yes, I am utterly unworthy, undeserving of love, one who should never expect forgiveness and redemption. 

Still, He gently calls my name.

Madly, I fight tooth and nail to get away.  I’m perfectly content to continue selling myself, body and soul, to the enemy.  Day after day, I answer the knock of the ones who’ve paid to steal my dignity and joy, giving myself away only to find emptiness.  But I see no way out.  No one will ever think I’m worthy of rescue, so I stop looking out the window at the passersby and hoping for someone to see beyond the obvious- that I am full of disgrace.

One day, He come to me at my lowest, when I am standing on the doorstep of death, and He carries me away.  He speaks tenderly to me in the desert and I respond, “My Husband.” (Hosea 2:14-16)

But the day always comes when I pack my bags and head back to the brothel, stubbornly turning from love, only to sell myself for a tiny handful of gold that never satisfies; and as He watches me flee, His heart shatters.  I’m running from the One who gave His everything, His very life, to love me.  And I run hard, as fast as I can, because my rebellious heart is unaware of the depth of rescue. (Hosea 2:7)


And so He comes again.

He runs to find me, and although He weeps at finding me in that darkened room, desperately wallowing in my sin, He puts His loving arms around me and takes me back.

This Redeemer does not focus on my filth; He only sees my need for a Savior.  He sees a lost and wandering child, afraid and confused.

He is my only hope.

No matter how many times I run, He comes to find me.  He comes to rescue.  He comes to redeem.

After all, He’s already paid the price; I belong to Him.  I am His bride, set apart for Him from the beginning of time.

And when I finally understand the allure of His love, the perfect joy He gives, and I strip myself of everything that keeps me from Him, baring all, I find the Lover of my soul waiting to welcome me home.  (Hosea 6:1) He lovingly lifts my head, wipes the tears of guilt and anguish from my eyes, and says, “Oh, Beloved, all is forgiven.  Come away with Me.”



~~

WIPWednesday






Thursday, July 12, 2012

14 Days of Pure Insanity

Lying in the floor, breathing and hoping just to stay alive, I finished the workout, amazed that I could still move and wishing I didn’t have to.  This wasn’t your typical “I ran three miles on the treadmill; oh that was nice” workout; this was “I jumped and squatted and planked for 30 minutes and I’m gonna die” workout.

But I’ve never felt so good!

14 days ago, I started the INSANITY workout DVD’s by Beachbody.  This is what their website claims: “Each INSANITY workout keeps you constantly challenged as you alternate between aerobic and anaerobic intervals performed at your MAX. The result: burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour and get the most insane body in 60 days.” 

Whaaaaaat?!?!  1,000 calories?  I’m in!



Wanna know the rest?  





Must Love God

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Prison Break


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 NIV)
Oh, her orange toenail polish is so cute! Maybe if I painted my toenails that color, I’d…

Look at her hair today.  It’s long and beautiful and she knows how to style it perfectly.  If my hair was long and beautiful, I’d…

Her body is just the right size.  She looks so cute in that outfit!  I guess if my body was like that, I’d…

On a Sunday morning, in between the songs and scriptures, my mind wanders to the worshippers rather than the worshipped.  While I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, I daresay you will relate.

My struggle is deep, friends, and it’s time I laid bare my heart. 

I wear the chains of insecurity, and it’s all about appearance.

Examining my thoughts, I find that I’m spending too much time comparing and not enough time praising God for who He made me to be.  I teach young women that they are beautiful because they are His, yet I am unable to apply it to my own life!  Those who love me have always told me that I am beautiful, and while I know they mean well, I just can’t believe their words. 

I am living in a prison of lies.


I've fallen for the culture's hideous lie that I must look like the "perfect girls" in the magazines to be acceptable.  And while I've been slowly sipping the Koolaid (as I suspect many of you have been), I've forgotten to be thankful for things like hair that grows, a nose with an excellent sense of smell, and a body strong enough to do hard work.  I've been saying to my Creator, "Why did you make me THIS way?" (Romans 9:20)

And yes, I know that it’s what is on the inside that counts.  I know my righteousness comes from Christ.  I know I am the apple of His eye, His beloved, His redeemed daughter.  But, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes those things just aren’t enough for me. 

Sometimes I just want to be beautiful.

Patiently, He’s been speaking in the struggle, and this time I’ve been seeking and waiting rather than running and fixing.  And today I find this:

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16 NIV)

Do you see, beloved?  WHO you are has nothing to do with WHAT you look like.  I created you for a purpose, a calling, and that calling was decided before you even HAD a body. Let me heal your soul...

I'm choosing to change my thinking, and while I’m still sifting through it all, I do know this: Too much self-love, too much pride, too much “it’s all about me” – these are my chains.  They steal my freedom and my ability to live fully.

Sisters, today let's make a pact to be thankful for the way our Creator has made us.  We are being called out of darkness into marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9)

~~
As C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.”  Do you struggle with believing the lies?  Have you overcome the insecurities?  Share your story in the comments.

WIPWednesday

Life: Unmasked



Monday, July 09, 2012

Not Yet...

Today, He speaks.
His words?

You haven't learned this lesson yet, Beloved.


And so I wait...


~~~
Always Counting...





#612 Window finally going in

#613 Workers with integrity
#616 Piano music
#617 Water- as much as I need/want
#618 The RIGHT friendships
#619 Pink toenail polish
#621 Color!
#622 TWO hands (Have you ever realized this blessing?)
#623 Making it through an Insanity workout without stopping
#624 Apologies
#625 Good books
#627 Courage

#629 Prayer for rain answered

#630 Hubby who works hard on our house


--


Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letterslife rearrangedfriday favorite things | finding joy

Friday, July 06, 2012

What's Behind the Mortar?


I had a window put in today.  Well, let me rephrase that: I almost had a window put in today.

I don’t know how many of you have worked with contractors before, but many times they’re not the most reliable bananas in the bunch.  We’ve done a lot of remodeling in our house in the country cove, so I’ve had several run-ins with these guys.  It usually ends up the same way- I’m at their mercy and they know it. 


The window guys were here, ready to cut out the wall, and all they needed was a brick guy.  Just one guy to remove a bunch of bricks so that the window would actually allow light to come through!  After all, windows are pretty useless when they have brick walls behind them.

Long (and stressful) story short, two days came and went, and I am still looking at a brick wall in my living room (Yes, I know that people in New York City would pay thousands for a brick wall inside, but this isn’t NYC, people!!!)

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

It Can Never be a Long Time Ago



Sometimes, we just want to read Little House on the Prairie.  Living in Walnut Grove, Minnesota sounds perfect, and the thought of spending the day sawing lumber with Charles or laughing with Laura and Mary brings a smile to our faces.   We find ourselves enthralled with this tiny town, in spite of storms and hardships.  And even though we are doing the best to love where we are, something inside of us longs to go back, and pretty soon, we’re battling discontent.

Too much looking back causes us to stop looking forward.

And we get stuck.

Thoughts like, “If only my babies were still babies, then…” or “I wish my husband would just…” find their way into our minds, and we begin to seek contentment in our version of perfect, forgetting that His “ways are higher than [our] ways” (Isaiah 55:9). 

I’m reminded by Paul in Philippians that we are called to contentment.

“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13)

We must learn the secret of being content in any and every situation…

Whether rich or poor.
Whether a mom of 4 or longing for just 1.
Whether friend to many or few.
Whether happily married or single and lonely.
Whether popular or forgotten.
Whether promoted at work or stuck in a boring desk job.
Whether in the college really desired or the last one on the list.

Any and every situation.

Why?

Because our strength comes from Him, the one who calls us to each and every season in which we find ourselves.  It's all for Him.  

All of it.

~~

“When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"

"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods… She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”

― Laura Ingalls Wilder




WIPWednesday

Monday, July 02, 2012

Filled to be Emptied

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides


This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness, or trial, or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am conqueror and co-heir with Christ
so firm on HIs promise I'll stand

All of my life in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
Where favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow


The notes rang out, words familiar to me, but this time speaking stronger. 

I know I’m filled to be emptied again.

And I thought back to the lesson I’d just taught my precious girls, how I’d told them that we are to expect trials when we follow Christ.  Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t about skipping down the yellow brick road with daisies and birds as our companions.  He tells us, “In the world you will have tribulation,” (John 16:33) yet when it actually happens to us, we scrunch up our faces into frowns and demand answers. 

Why me, Lord?  This isn’t supposed to happen to me!  Can’t you fix this?

Deny yourself.
Take up your cross.
Follow Me.
(Luke 9:23)

I am filled to be emptied.

I am not filled to feel good about my life or to avoid troubles.  I am filled by the Father so that I can surrender and serve.

It’s funny, when I think of it this way, that I’m filled just to be emptied, everything changes.  Desperate to equip myself for battle or drought, I dig deep and cling tight.  And I know that when I’m walking weary through the arid desert where there is no water in sight, He will soon lead me to the springs and renew my strength.


And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  (1 Peter 5:10)

~~~

Always counting...
#605 Peached juicy enough to drip
#607 Afternoon with precious cuties


#608 Local place, untouched by progress

#609 Air conditioning

#610 Productivity
#611 Garden vegetables
~~~

life rearranged

miscellany monday at lowercase letters
friday favorite things | finding joy




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