Light

Today is my 4 month anniversary of hitting my head.  I know it seems like a weird anniversary to celebrate, but to me, it feels like something that I never want to forget.  4 months ago, I had absolutely no idea that my life would take such an unexpectedly crazy turn… but God knew from the beginning of time.  I am thankful to say that I am finally feeling pretty much back to normal.  Last week, as I was putting our son, Drew, to bed, he said, “Mom, you finally have your personality back.”  My husband echoed those words yesterday, noticing that it felt like he had me back again.  I cannot even tell you how sweet those words are to my ears.  There were many moments over the past 124 days when I feared I would stay a shell of myself forever.  I am truly beyond grateful to God for his healing.

I say that I’m “pretty much” back to normal because I don’t think I’ll really ever be the same as I was pre-concussion.  After I hit my head, it was as if the lights went off in my life.  It felt like sitting in a theatre after a grand show when suddenly all the people are gone, the music stops, the lights go off, and you are left alone in a pitch black, silent, unfamiliar place.  In that darkness and silence, your eyes can discern the dimmest light and your ears begin to hear the tiniest of sounds.  God had my attention in a way that absolutely could not have happened without the darkness.   And He filled my soul with a light that I would not have known without the darkness.  IMG_0638

 

God once again reminded me that He is the meticulous caretaker of my soul. There is no trial or hardship that touches me that has not first been sifted through His loving hands.  The physical health of my body is of some value but the health of my soul is of utmost importance.  And if trial brings a healthier soul, my God will lovingly send it my way.  “For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) How I thank God for training me for this life AND for the life to come through His sovereign care and plan.  For those of you going through hardship (and I know there are many, and many with trials much worse than mine),  dare to see this hardship as an arrow of love from our Lord.  Dare to trust Him as your meticulous Soul Gardener.  Let the warmth of His light draw your face and your heart upward, looking beyond this life and into the life to come.  I really believe that when we get there, all of this will make sense and we will want nothing else but to fall at His feet in worship.  But for now, when you’re alone in silence and darkness…perk up your ears, search for the Light – you are never alone.  Our Jesus is right there beside you.

 

Past Fault

Last week I listened to June Hunt’s testimony on my cherished Focus on the Family (free) app.  I really appreciated her delivery as well as her content.  God has healed her from many hurts and made her into a beautiful believer.  She had been deeply hurt by her stepfather and, until God changed her heart, wanted to hurt him in return.  Mercifully, God changed her.  He changed her desires, her priorities, and her behaviors.  She said that in her relationship with her stepfather, God helped her “see past his fault to his need.”

Since hearing that phrase, it’s been continuously rolling around in my head.  Maybe it’s because my vision stops at fault with some people in my life.  There are those, thankfully few, with whom every interaction hurts, disrupts, and derails my thinking to a destructive kind of “fault cataloging”.  Maybe its because all of us are so needy.  Maybe it’s because hurtful people may have the deepest needs of all.  I don’t know but for me, there is something about being continuously hurt by the same person that makes it hard to see past their faults.  Even as I write that, it disgusts me that it’s true but it is.  I guess that’s why June Hunt’s quote hit me so hard.  Even in repeatedly hurtful situations, could God allow me to see past that person’s fault to their need?

This past Sunday at church was Communion Sunday, always a treasured day to me.  Our morning had been particularly hard at our house and I was extra aware of both my deep sin and my deep need for forgiveness. Communion is such an odd thing because 2 opposites, my utter sin and Christ’s absolute righteousness, meet in the perfect union.  I bring zero to the table; Christ brings all.  The beautiful, mysterious exchange occurs and Christ gives me His righteousness.  He sees past my fault to my need.

When Christ looked at the depth of my sin and chose to take it upon Himself in a punishing death, He saw past my fault and addressed my need.  When He daily shows His grace and mercy to me, He sees past my fault and meets my need.  When He hears and answers my multitude of prayers, He sees past my fault to my need.  As I think of Him, I find that all of His interactions with me are this way and I’m so grateful.

In praying that God would make me resemble Him in this way, He seems to be giving me opportunities to learn it.  Again this week, I’ve had new hurts from familiar sources.  I’ve found that seeing past a person’s fault to a person’s need is not a one time change of mind but a thousand small decisions to see that person differently.  It reminds me of 2 things, first, my constant dependence upon God and second, His constant pardoning of me.  In response, I worship with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.”

Lord, thank you for consistently seeing past my fault to my need and being the End of all my needs.  Help me to compassionately see others in this same way, praying for them and loving them like you love me.  Thank you for making this wretch your treasure.  I love you.  Amen

Holy Ground

Sometimes I feel like I rarely do meaningful things for the kingdom of God.  I have all these dreams of writing books and Bible studies but then I wonder if I need seminary or more advanced training first.  None of those things are realities right now so I just set them aside in a “later..maybe” category.  But still in the daily grind of my life, I wonder if I should be doing something bigger.

This past weekend, my hubby and I got away just the 2 of us.  It was awesome and just what we needed, both for our tired bodies and our weary souls.  Getting away for just a little over 48 hours brought clarity and direction in many areas of life, one being my mothering.  God kindly reaffirmed to me the “bigness” of my job, because of the precious little souls entrusted to my care.  Yes, making 3 meals a day, potty training, laundry, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning can feel so very small, but my heart in doing them changes everything.  God has promised me His constant Presence, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 and Deut. 31:6)  That means that He is with me in the cooking, cleaning, laundry, potty training, and most importantly in the nurturing of little souls.  That means that our home is holy ground.  It is the exact place where I learn Him, where I grow in devotion to Him, where He trains me for His service, and where I see His faithfulness and grace.

This excerpt from one of my favorite devotionals,  Streams in the Desert (p. 398),  says it beautifully… ” Exodus 3:1-2, ‘Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within the bush.’  The vision of the angel of the Lord came to Moses while he was involved in his everyday work.  That is exactly where the Lord delights in giving His revelations.

Beloved Father, help me to expect You as I travel the ordinary road of life.  I am not asking for sensational experiences.  Fellowship with me through my everyday work and service, and be my companion when I take an ordinary journey.  And let my humble life be transformed by Your Presence.”

The Finished Unfinished

We are major DIY-ers around here.  Since moving into our house 4 1/2 years ago, we have renovated almost every surface in every room.  Some things have been done more than once now.  It seems we always have a project going, which also means that we always have things that are unfinished.  We’ve got some freshly built cabinets without doors, some places that need paint, some floors without trim and on and on.  The funny thing is that since  I know the intention of  these projects, I’ve begun to see them as already finished.  I know the cabinets will eventually have doors so I’ve ceased to see them as doorless.  We recently hosted a small event at our house  and afterwards, I realized that I did not even explain our wall of doorless cabinets to anyone.  I’m sure they were wondering what was going on there, but I didn’t even think about it because of the way I’ve begun to see the unfinished as finished.

I am such an unfinished project.   This past week has highlighted that fact in great detail.  It seems like everything that could go wrong has, plus some.  For a girl who rarely cries, I’ve cried twice (which I think is a personal record).  I can’t even list all the out-of-the-ordinary situations and interactions I’ve had, although it would make for some great reality TV.  On top of all the craziness, I’m just really exhausted.  I’ve responded poorly to many situations.  I haven’t even responded to others because I’m just too tired.  I’m so raw and unfinished, much like many of the projects in our house.

It’s funny how God has used these projects to encourage me this week.  Just as I realized that I see all the unfinished things as finished, God lovingly showed me that He sees me the same way. To myself and to the passerby, I look just as incomplete as my doorless cabinets.  To God, I am as complete and finished as I’ll ever be.  He sees His intentions for me and since He is the faithful Completer, He sees me now as He always intended.

These verses perfectly depict the “finished unfinished”. Hebrews 10:12,14…”But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” The innocent Jesus paid for my guilty sins one complete time, for all time.  Afterwards, He sat down in heaven, showing that His work is done.  In that single offering, He perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  What is sanctified? – the process of being made holy, like Christ.  So… on earth, I’m still very much “in process” but my eternal, for all time status in Jesus is “perfected”.

Thank you Lord, for seeing me as perfected because of Jesus’s one, complete offering on my behalf.  Thank you also for working with me on earth.  You are the God of the “finished unfinished”. Hallelujah!  Let me lovingly see your people in the same gracious way.  Amen

Driftwood

We were at the beach this weekend, just a few days after Hurricane Isaac passed through.  The weather was mostly sunny but the beach showed signs of recent ravage.  It was covered in layers of seaweed and all sorts of other “treasures” churned up by an angry sea.  We saw an assortment of old boat pieces, crumbled sand dollars, shells of all sizes, interesting plant life, broken sunglasses, driftwood, and even a kitchen sink.  Our family had a blast digging through it all and trying to imagine where the life of these items began.

The most interesting treasure to me was the myriad of unique driftwood.  I was captivated by it.  Each piece is all its own – some with hundreds of tiny holes, some smooth as a stone, some a home to baby crabs, some mangled, some flat…each absolutely beautiful.  I’ve had a fascination with driftwood for a few years now and have collected small pieces to fill some bowls and vases at home but I’ve never seen the huge chunks brought in by a hurricane’s power.  I lugged in pieces so dense and heavy that I could carry only one at a time.  I even talked my precious husband into snagging a 100 pound piece for us that is amazingly beautiful.

So what’s the deal with me and driftwood?  Whenever I see it, I think of people and the story God is writing for each of us.  Every time I pick up a new driftwood treasure, I study it and wonder about its story.  Where did it begin?  What object was it originally?  How long has it been drifting in the ocean?  What are the heights and the depths of God’s creation it has seen?  How many and what strength of storms has it weathered?  All I can see is its breath-taking beauty, most likely created from a life of severe weathering and testing.

I guess that’s what makes me think of people.  I wonder the same questions about every person I meet.  What is their story?  Some of us have weathered beauty-producing storms or loss.  Some of us have yet to realize the beauty out of our trials.  Some of us are still drifting, waiting to experience the heights and depths of God.  The mercy of it all is that, for those in God’s family, our story ends in beauty.  Isaiah 61:3 says that God makes beauty even out of ashes.  Regardless of where we are in our journey, our Maker sees us as that “finished” driftwood, displaying His glorious beauty.

I love to think of His tender care as He guides me through the ocean of my life.  He knows the exact moment that I need a storm to break off my dangerously rough edges.  He knows the intensity of the current needed to smooth those broken places.  He knows when I need to see and experience depths and sometimes darkness.  He knows when I need to float near the surface and soak in His light.  And to His eternal praise, He knows how all these things will reveal His beauty, as He has always intended to display through me and each of His children.

Lord, give me more trust in You as You masterfully orchestrate the journey of my life.  Give me your eyes to enjoy the beauty You are creating in those around me.  Let me love others at their exact stage in their journey, believing in your perfect love and plan for them.  Thank you for your beauty displayed in something as simple as driftwood.  Amen

Snails on the Playset

Our treasured roly-polys / snails.

This morning was a lovely morning, cooler and shadier than usual – perfect for playing outside.  The boys were in the backyard soon after breakfast, still in their pajamas, just playing in their magical world.  I sat out there reading and writing, playing referee every once in a while but mostly just enjoying the way they imagine and play together.  They were building towers out of dirt and rocks, fighting bad guys, and “painting” the swing set with chalk.  I thought they were mostly unaware of my presence until I heard a scream, “MOOOOOMMMM, come quick!!!”  Every mother panics at this and I ran to their side as quickly as my pregnant body would take me.  As soon as I got there, I saw them both crouched down on the upper level of the play set staring at something underneath one of the stairs.  With the brightest eyes and the most intense voice, D (our 4-year-old)  says, “We found roly-polys” (which were really snails).  Of course, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing at my intense kiddos.  I said, “Should we take a picture?” and D says, “Yes, and let’s send it to daddy.”  So I ran to get my phone so we could snap and send and I thought about the preciousness of this moment – in fact, I thought about the worship of this moment.  When I returned, nothing about the scene had changed except for maybe my heart.  Both boys were still crouched, the roly-polys/snails were still there, and the air was still one of awe.  I asked D, “Who made those snails?” and he said, “God”.  That was it.  God was praised for His marvelous creation.  God was given credit for His snails on the play set. The picture was taken and sent to daddy and the boys went back to “painting”.

Lord, thank you for the simplicity of children.  Thank you that their entire world stops for your snails.  Father, let me not miss the wonder You have put in all the parts of my day.  Give me the simple eyes of children to see You and praise You.  Amen