I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”
The sun takes its moment to shine forth in brilliance. Its rays beam and burst out in all directions with four strong points to north, south, east and west as if a blazing cross has been set in the sky. As the trees wake to the breeze they clap their morning praise. The sun seems to pulse in and out of the leaves; the heartbeat of the sky.
All creation shouts your praise and I delight to join in the chorus. What can I say? What could I sing? I pause. I simply sense your greatness in this place; the magnitude of your presence. I stand silently in awe of your glory. This is worship.
The veil is torn. The coal has touched my lips. Your love has seared my soul. Your grace has cleansed my heart. This is holy ground.
Psalm 148:5, Matthew 27:51, Isaiah 6:7, Exodus 3:5
There are days in this business where I feel as if I’m standing in a crowd, hands open, offering an incredible gift and people don’t notice. They walk by with blinders on. They assume it’s too good to be true. They’re too busy to notice. They just can’t believe it’s for them. Some are curious but too afraid to even take a closer look.
Fear. It holds us back so many times. Fear whispers doubt, pulls us back into the mold and keeps us living with only a small portion of what God has in store. Fear tells us not to move. Doubt tells us it’s not possible. Shame tells us we’re not worthy.
God. God tells us to go. He tells us to move forward because He has already made a way and redeemed us. He makes us worthy.
Imagine what Christ must have felt on the cross. Can we even begin to glimpse a small portion of what he experienced? He was the most perfect gift given by God. God himself, opening His hands to offer his only Son.
Yet, in that moment and still today, people don’t notice. They walk by with blinders on. They turn away. They assume it’s too good to be true. They just can’t believe it’s for them. Some are curious but too afraid to even take a closer look.
God still waits for so many. With open hands and a storehouse of blessings, He waits to give away the most precious of all gifts; Himself.
2 Corinthians 9:15, James 1:17, Romans 8:32
It’s just the two of us. His greatness and my frailty are mingling together. We are one in this place, though the thought is almost unbearable and nearly unimaginable. My facades are removed. Every mask is taken off and dropped at His feet.
I am Bare.
Shame attempts to intrude but He gently pushes it away. My heart exposed, He begins to mend, restore and tend to each need. This is a process. Each time I come, more work is accomplished. Often, there are new wounds. This broken world easily produces more brokenness.
No matter to Him. It is as if He doesn’t notice. He is unshaken by anything I could bring. My worst, He makes his best. This process, so tender and so gentle, brings waves of peace and undertones of tranquility.
I know all will be well. In this place, more than any other, I can truly say it is well with my soul. It is here I am made alive and anew. What is not complete is held in his hands, reserved for another meeting. It needs time; a process of healing. This rests well with me as He knows better than I.
In hopeful, joyful expectance I wait. He breathes life in my lungs while the warmth of peace and the cool rush of anticipation fill my soul. There is more, much more. There is a promise; a sweet hope. For here, I see dimly. This is only a portion, just a small glimpse, of what awaits. It is but a foretaste of what He has prepared.
My hope is placed fully and only in Him. It is well. It is well.
Lamentations 3:22-23, James 1:2-4, Psalm 23:6, John 14:3
Morning barely makes its appearance and she wakes, taking her Bible in hand and tip-toeing through the house. She walks past the laundry pile begging to be folded and curtails the dirty dishes in the sink. Her destination is that secret place. She swiftly makes her way to this favorite spot where she meets with Him once again. Quietly she opens the pages of that worn Bible with the underlined passages. She prays no one wakes to disturb this precious time. This time she needs. This time she craves. Even a few moments here in the garden of His presence is enough, but she always craves more. He is tangible in this place and she has come to need that more than anything else in her day. She needs Him first. Some need a cup of coffee in the morning, but she needs the One who quenches her soul. He is the one who meets her greatest desires. Here in this place, deep cries out to deep. Creation dances with creator. Breath and soul meet the giver of life.
It is good.
It is needed.
She sits quietly breathing in his presence. She praises by sensing his greatness. She asks by revealing every thought to Him. She confesses by bearing her heart. Nothing is hidden. Nothing is wasted. Here, there is no condemnation. Here, every weight is removed. Burdens are lifted and every desire is taken, held and considered for the perfect time.
His love overwhelms her and his peace envelopes her. She is seen. She is known.
This is holy ground.
Luke 10:42, Genesis 16:13, Exodus 3:5
White, pristine and clean, the dress is laid before you. You stand in awe, afraid to touch it, afraid to crinkle the pressed edges. It is perfect. A dazzling white, so bright it nearly hurts your eyes. You breathe in deep. It is here for you. The act of putting it on seems preposterous. You feel so unworthy. Perhaps it is all a dream. You rub your eyes. No, it still lies before you. There it is; sparkling and perfectly splendid without flaw or stain. There must be some mistake. This cannot be meant for you. Would there be but one imperfection? Just one snag in the fabric or one stich left undone then perhaps it would be more fitting. Then maybe you would be able to put it on. Second hand, second rate, second best would be more fitting for you. Not this. This is meant for a princess. You shake your head and think, “not me”. Yet here it is and here you are. It lays ready, waiting. The choice is yours. One more deep breath and a silent gulp then you dive in. You touch it. The satin fabric slides across your fingers and the diamonds are cool and smooth to the touch. Your heart races. Your breath catches in your chest and in one quick flash you pick up the dress. You pull it close to your chest and tears begin to stream down your face. You start to sway just gently to the rhythm. A new rhythm; slow and steady, one you have never known before this moment. You gently slide it on. It’s a perfect fit. It envelopes you like a blanket. It is soft and fitting like a warm towel after a bath. You turn and catch a reflection. Could it be? You see yourself. You truly see yourself for the first time. You see what He has seen all along. Perfection. His splendid creation. Suddenly, you no longer see for the tears welling up in your eyes. They form puddles then burst, overflowing and spilling onto your soft blushed cheeks. The tears run free, down your face and onto the dress. You gasp for fear it will ruin the unblemished fabric. Yet, that is not the case at all. Every place a tear falls, the fabric dazzles even more. It is shimmering, glowing so bright now that you can barely glance at it. Yet, you know you never want to take it off.
It is time. He is waiting.
The reality is too much. Your feet feel like lead. You want to move but the weight of this moment is overwhelming. Staying here though seems no longer a choice. Not after this gift. Not after accepting it. This is such an extravagant purchase. It was bought at such a high price. The only thing left to do is to meet the Giver; the One who sought out the dress so long ago. It is time to meet the One who lovingly designed it and painstakingly prepared it. He is the One whose nail-scarred hands touched every stitch and whose blood washed away every stain it used to bear. Now is the time. Trembling and nearly without conscious effort one foot moves before you and somehow your body follows. You take one more step and it becomes easier, smoother now. The weight no longer holding you back, you raise your head and begin to smile. You breathe in this moment and in a burning flash you throw open the door and run. The shackles and chains fall with every pounding step and the dress begins to feel like wings. At full speed you run until you see Him and stop dead in your tracks. There He is. The One. He’s been waiting. He smiles and instantly you realize what this was all about.
Love. Wild, unending, crazy love.
His love pierces your heart and you gaze at him in awe. There is nothing between you now. There is nothing between you and His love. There are no requirements, no prerequisites, and no deposits to make. Anything that was keeping you from His love was laid down the moment you put on the dress. What is left now but do embrace it? You take one final step forward. He wraps His arms around you. It is not a hug. It is like the part of your soul you were missing has found your body. You are home.
You melt into His embrace and suddenly you are new. You don’t even remember who you were before this moment or why you were so hesitant to put on the dress. Now, you are only His.
The embrace becomes a dance; smooth and steady. A dance you will sway with forevermore. This rhythm is perfect. It moves to the beating of His heart.
You are home.
I am not my accomplishments.
I am not my appearance.
I am not what others think of me.
I am not my own.
I am loved.
I am chosen.
I am His.
I am forgiven.
I am made worthy.
I am made new.
I am a child of the One true King.
I am not driven by the ways of this world; by money, lust or greed.
I am not moved by things.
I am called.
I claim a higher purpose.
I follow His plan, His ways, His steps.
In Him I live and move and have my being.
I will not be shaken, though the earth give way and the mountains crumble into the sea, because this is not my home.
I am not of this world.
I am only and completely found in Him.
He is my way maker.
He is my peace.
He is my light.
He moves me.
He makes me.
He guides me.
Constant He will be.
Forever I am changed.
One thing remains; I in Him, He in me.
Alpha and Omega
All I ever need
Acts 17:28, Psalm 46:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 22:13
A few days ago we found a baby bird. It had fallen from its nest and it was not old enough to fly. The little guy was certain to be prey to the next animal that came along but we weren’t sure how to help him. We couldn’t find the nest and weren’t sure if the mother robin would come back for him. My husband couldn’t bear to leave him on the ground so tiny and vulnerable. He knew he would either starve because he was too young to find his own food or be killed by another animal, possibly even our dog who was watching all if this intently. We called the animal rescue center and they gave us some tips on how to help this baby robin. In the meantime, my husband fed the tiny bird worms by hand. We read that these little guys need to eat from the time the sun rises until it sets each day, and should be fed every 10-20 minutes during that time, but unlike mammals, robins never need overnight feedings. Whew! And I thought nursing an infant was work. On the advice of the rescue center, my husband crafted a makeshift nest out of a minnow trap and attached it to the side of a tree with a bungee cord. Ok, so it wasn’t the Hilton but it was a place to stay, more along the lines of the Motel 8 variety of bird domains. Within minutes of being placed in his temporary dwelling, the mama robin came to him with food. She came and she came and she came. Back and forth she went getting worms for him. It was her job. She never rested, just fed that little baby. Within days, he had nearly doubled in size and flew out of the nest. Still she would find him and feed him. Whether he moved to another tree, was hidden in the branches or landed on the ground, she would find him and take care of his every need. Even when she left him, she was aware of him. She knew exactly where he was at all times and those moments when she left his side, she was still tending to his needs. Isn’t it amazing that God created this bond even in the smallest of animals? He planned every detail and equipped the mother perfectly to care for her fledgling. The Bible tells us if He does this with even the birds, how much more does he care for us? Matthew 6:26 tells us our Heavenly Father feeds them and cares for their every need and that he does the same, even more so for us. Luke reminds us, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” After all, we are of much more value to him than birds. Christ laid down his life for us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. The Lord cares for us so deeply that even the hairs on our head are numbered. So how much more does he tend to our needs than a mother robin cares for her young? Can you envision it? The God of creation, the One who made the Heavens and the Earth watching over you, sheltering you under His wing, bringing you nourishment, keeping you safe and never letting you out of his sight? No matter where you go, how far you fly, He is there. We can exclaim with the Psalmist, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” What love is this? What great love not only covers a multitude of sin but cares for your every need as well. Only God. He is all and is all we ever need. Let Him care for you and remember no matter where you fly, He is there.
Luke 12:6, Matthew 6:26, Matthew 10:30, 1 John 3:16, Psalm 139:7-10
There are times when words fail me. When heartache cuts deep, when loss is so great, when the longing of my heart surpasses known language, those are times when only one name needs uttered. Jesus. A whisper, a cry, my very breath; only Jesus. There is a place deep within each of us, a need only he can fill. This place we can’t describe or name. Where deep cries out to deep. That need is only met, when we cry, “Jesus”. He turns my way, he looks at me, knowing everything. He knows more than I how I need him. Here, face to face, all is known and all is understood.
There is a moment in one of my favorite movies, Dirty Dancing (yes, I’m using Dirty Dancing in a devotional blog) where Johnny is walking away and Baby cries out to him, “Johnny!” Just that one word; his name. He turns and he looks at her. Their eyes meet and all is known. No words are exchanged. With one glance all is understood.
I think of that when I cry to Jesus. Only magnified one hundred percent because he knows everything. As creator, he knows my very being. My past and my future; all of eternity is in His hands. He knows every desire of my heart because he places those desires within my heart. His sovereignty is unmatched. I am his and he is mine. One word, one name. Jesus. The name of Jesus.
Genesis 16:13, Romans 8:26, Psalm 37:4
It was early morning when my son fell out of bed; our bed where he had slept all night kicking us, but both of us where too tired to move him to his room. I was up with my hot tea writing away when “clunk”; every mother knows that terrible sound. A thud then screaming. I ran right out of my slippers as I dashed to the bedroom and struggled to open the door because the crying little body was right in front of it. I snatched him up and did the full body check once over; no bleeding, no sign of concussion, not that I even know what to look for, and no sign of broken bones. Everything was moving and every body part was working. Immediately, as I sat down and snuggled him in close to my chest he stopped crying, closed his eyes and fell back asleep…hopefully concussion free. As I held him close I started thinking about how the Lord holds us. No matter how badly we’ve fallen, no matter how far the fall, he picks us up and holds us until we calm down and find rest once again. He checks us out, heals any wounds and holds us close. We may develop scars from the fall, but scars tell a story you know. Scars help remind us where we’ve been and how we’ve healed. I have all these funny little scars that remind me of my childhood. One on top of my foot from the time I did a cartwheel in the living room and crashed into the wooden chair. One from a piece of metal stripping on a step in the church at Vacation Bible School (today someone would probably sue the church), even my c-section scar that brought my son into this world. They each tell a story and bring a memory to life. Some scars though aren’t visible. Some have left an imprint on our hearts, etched deep in our minds. They may be painful; terribly, terribly painful scars. Some of so much pain that they are buried deep in an effort to forget they exist. Some right on the surface, fresh, like it may rip open any day. The world tells us time heals all wounds. Christ tells us, I took all your wounds upon myself. He alone is our burden bearer and healer of all scars. He alone can hold us in the dark places after a fall and bring us to his rest. His presence is healing balm, ointment to our minds, salve to our souls. He knows where we’ve been, not as an outsider who watched our journey, no the bible tells us he experienced it. He felt our very pain, our sorrow and the weight of our sin and shame when he hung on the cross for us. His scars, the deepest of all, save us. His scars make us free. His scars give us hope. Our scars hold a memory, his hold our future. His wounds secured our home in heaven where all our scars will be no more.
1 Peter 2:24, Psalm 46:10, 2 Corinthians 1:4