Healing Lepers

When the Lord rescued me from the entanglement of sin, I was pretty messed up. Still today, it is hard for me to believe that I have been given the life that I live. Each day is a new opportunity for me to draw close to my Lord. Every moment I am given, I am able to learn to enjoy all that He has blessed me with. But my life was not always like this.

Nor was my disposition.

Before God delivered me from the chains of insanity that was my life, most people considered me unredeemable. I was so heavily weighted down by guilt and shame, that I was pretty certain “most people” were right. I had run so far, and for so long, from my Savior, that I had given up on ever finding my way back. Even if I could find my way, I was more than certain He no longer wanted me. So I stayed far away from God. I stayed far away from anyone who seemed to know, or look, like Him.

Like the lepers of the ancient near east, I imagined myself an outcast. The woman that I saw in the mirror, repulsed me, and so I assumed that what others saw of me repulsed them, as well. I felt rejected by society, and so, in turn, I rejected society and societal norms. Standing on the outskirts of civilization, my actions, words and appearance intentionally cried out “Unclean! Unclean!”.

And no one knew better than I how my words rang true.

For years I wore so many masks that I eventually lost track of who I really was. I was the fun party girl that everyone loved, yet inside I was the tortured introvert that no one truly knew. I detested what was inside me, so I never allowed anyone the chance to get to know me.

I was surrounded by friends, and yet desperate for love and acceptance.

Sometimes, I still struggle with feeling accepted.

I continue to be a work in progress.

My sin destroyed relationships and hurt others, but it was most damaging to myself. Yet the circular nature of the devastating effect of sin, only led to further sin in order to avoid the shame of the previous sin, and on, and on, until I was buried by destructive and selfish choices.

I felt lost in darkness so thick that I believed I could never be free.

My mother prayed for me. My grandmother prayed for me. Everyone prayed for me. I was in my late 20’s when I finally stopped running from God.

I  was a mess when God found me.

And then, in the wholly magnificent way that God does, He saved me, delivered me, cleansed me, and sent me on my way.

It has been over a decade since the Lord changed my life, and the process of change has not always been easy. One task that proved most challenging was learning to see myself as God sees me: loved, precious, and accepted. And, because I could not see God, I sought that love and acceptance from the next closet thing – His church.

Unfortunately, we as the Body of Christ, can be hard on believers such as myself, who were once sinners of the Mary Magdalene variety. Often, we would like them to be assimilated into a uniform example of godliness, without the history of having been delivered from seven demons.

The problem with this plan, however, is that hurting people need to know that God can heal the hurting.

Broken people need to hear that God mends the broken.

Damaged people need to believe that healed people have scars.

Therefore, hiding our scars due to prideful, fearful, or self-centered reasons not only shadows the glory of God manifested in our lives, it can also hinder the work of God through our lives.

Dear friend, if you are reading this today, please allow me to share this with you today:

My scars have scars.

And my scars are massive. Many of them run deep. Some of them are downright grotesque, and a few are still healing.

And though I was once revolting in my own eyes, I am now marvelous in God’s eyes. Not because I am good, or righteous. I am far from it.

But, I am a magnificent work of art, masterfully crafted to reflect His love, mercy, and power to a world full of hurting and lonely people.

There have been times that I felt life would be easier if I fit the mold that appears to be the Christian norm. But, that mold would not fulfill God’s purpose for me.

God has plans for me and my scars.

I desire that my life might be a living sacrifice, and He desires to use it as a living testimony. And while my pre-Christ story resembles that of Mary Magdalene, my post-Christ praise aligns with the accounts of Mary of Bethany. Because He has loved me fully, I desire to sit as His feet soaking in everything He will share. Because I am so indebted to His grace, I long to anoint his feet with oil, wash them lovingly with hands, and dry them with my hair. For when you have been forgiven and healed of all that I have, you cannot help but adore the One who saved You.

The one who has been forgiven much, loves much.

My sin was damaging, and my choices deforming, but my God is powerful, patient, forgiving, and true. He found me, saved me, healed me, strengthened me, and gave me new life. And what He did for me, He can do for you.

Or your spouse.

Or child.

Or sibling.

Or parent.

Or relative-in-general.

Or friend.

Or enemy.

If you, or someone in your life, desperately needs to be rescued by Christ, count this as truth:

He is more than trustworthy.

I encourage you to cry out to Him from where you are. Pray for repentance and deliverance, for yourself, and intercede regularly for others. Then, choose to walk in faith.

Our God is still healing lepers.

He specializes in calling forth the impossible.

He brings new life from the darkness.

He is the faithful hope for your hurt.

And He is the Restorer of the lost.

 

For further study:  Luke 17:11-19 (ESV)

For prayer on this topic, see today’s Daily Hope & a Prayer.

Hope-Day Wednesday

Throughout the week, the Your Story Page is open to anyone who wishes to share their story of hope and grace with someone who may waiting to hear it. Simply enter your story into the form, with any other information that you may like to share. If you are a blogger, writer or have a website, feel free to leave your website URL for the readers to connect with you later. Then, on Hope-Day Wednesday, individual stories will be added to the Our-Stories page in order to offer hope and encouragement to someone who may need it.

Your story might change a life, save a marriage, restore a relationship, give a discouraged parent hope, or help someone to hold on for just one more day.

Happy Story Sharing!

A Story of Hope – A Hope Day Wednesday ‘Your Story’

A few years ago the word “Hope” took on a deeper meaning for me, when I hoping for healing for my son. I found out when I was 5 months pregnant with him, that there was a problem, something very small was preventing his body from developing the way it needed to for him to live or have a healthy life. The doctors recommended me terminating the pregnancy because he probably might die inside of me or very soon after he was born. He did die but lived a lot longer than they thought he would and long enough to change me. This is a long story, that I would definitely love the opportunity to tell in more details in the future.
I remember writing 3 poems in the hospital about hope – they were called “Hope, Hope Was With Us, The Story of Hope.”

I remember in one of those poems I say, that hope is hardest, when you need it the most. I ask myself questions leading up to the unknown, like “if God doesn’t heal him, is it because I did not pray hard enough,” “is it because my faith wasn’t strong enough?” and many more. I wondered “what was going to happen to my baby.” When my son died right next to me, he just fell into a peaceful sleep and God brought peace to my heart. He told me “don’t worry, he is in good hands” and I saw Jesus holding him in His arms.

Since then, I have had two baby boys. That experience made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. That was literally and truly one of my worst fears I lived through.

“A Story of Hope”  is a Hope-Day Wednesday Your Story, and was contributed by guest blogger, Latisha. She can be found blogging at Ask Latisha. Connect with her there or on her Twitter, Google+, or Facebook page for more great posts!Do you have a story of hope and grace that someone may be waiting to hear? If so, why not share Your Story?

Hope-Day Wednesday

Throughout the week, the Your Story Page is open to anyone who wishes to share their story of hope and grace with someone who may waiting to hear it. Simply enter your story into the form, with any other information that you may like to share. If you are a blogger, writer or have a website, feel free to leave your website URL for the readers to connect with you later. Then, on Hope-Day Wednesday, individual stories will be added to the Our-Stories page in order to offer hope and encouragement to someone who may need it.

Your story might change a life, save a marriage, restore a relationship, give a discouraged parent hope, or help someone to hold on for just one more day.

Happy Story Sharing!

Everyone has a story. How many people know yours? Someone needs it. @embracinghiswil

Are you a blogger? If so, please include your website URL and be sure to upload an image. Your Story may be featured as a guest post! If you are featured, or just would like to help spread the word about Hope-Day Wednesdays, please ‘Grab my button’!

Surviving a Season of Loss – A Hope Day Wednesday ‘Your Story’

Today I’m writing a very personal post. I’ve held this close to my heart for a long time and today I share it in hopes that it will encourage you to know that – 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 (KJV) “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The spring of 1993 was beautiful. The flowers were in bloom and the weather was mild. We were living in a small, placid, and peaceful town in Indiana. My beautiful daughter was growing up into a smart, loving, creative pre-teen. We were far from wealthy but lived comfortably. I had a job I really enjoyed at the school and the hours were conducive to raising my daughter. The church we attended was a vibrant, alive church and I had many friends.

But a freight train was barreling down the tracks headed straight for us. I never saw the season of loss coming !!!!

The first sign was just a nagging suspicion, so easy to ignore. But soon the signs became more and more apparent and not so easy to overlook. In time I learned that my husband, of almost 21 years, was having an affair. We tried (looking back maybe it was just me trying) to work it out for almost 2 years. But in the end the marriage couldn’t be put back together. He chose not to leave her and our marriage was over. My world was in shambles.

But the hits kept coming. My sweet daughter, who always was a daddies girl, turned sullen and angry. She began to hang with the wrong crowd. Sometimes she didn’t come home. My heart was in shreds. She moved away from home and began to practice things that she had been taught against as a girl. All the time I saw the pain on her face and wept. I struggled to keep an open line of love and communication between us but sometimes my sadness and her angry got in the way.

The season was icy cold, harsh, bleak – intense winter.

I thought the spring might soon try to appear but I had one more, and this maybe the hardest, season to walk through. I thought my daughter was doing a little better. She didn’t seem quite so angry. We were able to talk a little more. Then one day she came to me with a sad face and a letter in her hand. “Mom, read this,” she said, “and we can talk later.” The letter contained the idea that she wanted to live with her father. She was of age so it was her choice but the rest of what was left of my tattered world titled all out of kilter. My head knew that it was in her best interest to make amends with her dad but, I’m telling you, my heart wasn’t in the same place.

My world was frozen over.

Where was God during all this ? I know you wanted to ask. He was there and I’m so glad He was. I’m sure that the outcome of my season would have been very different if He hadn’t been there every step of the way. Especially after my daughter moved in with her dad and I was really alone, I leaned on Him. No, maybe that isn’t just right – I clung to Him like a sailor wraps himself around the mast in a storm. He never let me down.

Then one day I felt a little lifting of the icy cold and a pre-spring breeze fluttered by- just for a second. I was walking the icy lane after that and I spied a little bud pushing up through the snow. Slowly, so slowly the days grew longer and the breeze became sweeter and milder. The buds flourished into, so welcoming, spring flowers.

Today my relationship with my daughter is great. She is married to a wonderful man and smiles often. The angry is gone from her face and the ice from my heart has melted. We now live 10-15 minutes apart and I see or talk to her often. We have an alive and vibrant church here in Portland too. I’m married again to a wonderful, loving and Godly man and life is again good.

I want to sing and dance today to celebrate the changing of the seasons. The winter is past. The breezes are now warm and rich with new life. Summer has finally arrived. And we have all survived after all !!!!!

What seasons of life have you walked through? And how did you manage?

 

*This post was previously published on Mary and Martha’s House.
“Surviving a Season of Loss”  is a Hope-Day Wednesday Your Story, and was contributed by guest blogger, Rebecca Mclellan. She can be found blogging at Mary and Martha’s House. Connect with her there or on her Twitter or Facebook page for more great posts!Do you have a story of hope and grace that someone may be waiting to hear? If so, why not share Your Story?

Hope-Day Wednesday

Throughout the week, the Your Story Page is open to anyone who wishes to share their story of hope and grace with someone who may waiting to hear it. Simply enter your story into the form, with any other information that you may like to share. If you are a blogger, writer or have a website, feel free to leave your website URL for the readers to connect with you later. Then, on Hope-Day Wednesday, individual stories will be added to the Our-Stories page in order to offer hope and encouragement to someone who may need it.

Your story might change a life, save a marriage, restore a relationship, give a discouraged parent hope, or help someone to hold on for just one more day.

Happy Story Sharing!

Secret Spaces {and LINKY}

Many of us live lives of duplicity. We are confused, having misled ourselves into believing that we are free of the chains of our past. When we look back at the journey of our lives, we proudly mis-conclude that we have moved beyond the effects of the devastating points of our journey. Yet, the power of our painful past influences our choices in innumerable direct and indirect ways. Choices regarding our relationships, professional life, parenting style, friendships, ministry and more are all affected by our experiences. We store the ruins of the most painful moments deep within. However,

God desires the secret spaces in our hearts.

He knows the dark corners where we hide our pain, secrets and shame. And he longs for us to invite him into our most protected hiding places. For it is within these dark, hidden rooms that we have tried to lock away those experiences that are the most painful. This is where we have stashed the remnants of abuse, neglect, disappointment, or heartbreak.

We struggle with opening those long-sealed doors. For behind them lie secrets or emotions so black, we are ashamed even to face them. We are unable, or unwilling, to see how they continue to impact our lives, so we convince ourselves that the doors are better left closed.

We are comfortable with our secret rooms, not only do they hide our hurts, they give us a place to hide as well.

Our identity is often intertwined with much of the mess stored within these places. Subconsciously we question who we will be if we let them go. We wonder what will be left of us when our purpose isn’t fueled by what lies deep within.

Then, we fear the risk of exposure. Our stored-away hurts or guilt barely allow us to love ourselves. How will others love us if they really knew what we had experienced? Or what we were capable of?

But, these locked-off rooms are even more insidious than they seem.

Because, here is an important truth:

our past directly influences our desire to submit to the will of God for our lives.

When we hold our hurts close, refusing to turn them over to our Savior, they become barriers. Instead of offering the expected protection, they serve as blockades separating us from our Lord. We cling to our experiences, desperately believing them able of keeping us from further hurt, but instead, they keep us from experiencing the love and peace that comes only through intimately knowing Christ.

Many of us tremble at the prospect of bringing the full sinfulness of our hearts to the Lord. We struggle with trusting Him in our hiding places. Thankfully, He gives us more grace for this, as well. Because He loves us, God will continue to knock at our secret doors.

God loves us too much to allow the beauty of His love to be overcome by darkness of our pasts.

He doesn’t simply pursue us until we accept Jesus as our Savior, but He pursues us until we have given ourselves completely to Him. He pursues us as we grow in faith and godliness.

God will relentlessly and lovingly pursue us right up to the hiding places of our hearts.

And if we are brave enough to open the door, and allow Him to carry away those burdens we were never meant to bear, we will experience new freedom in and through the Lord.

Once we have invited our Savior to enter into our secret spaces, and excavate those hurts that we are unable to free ourselves from, our freedom will compel us to love Him. We will become fully enabled to present our lives as a fragrant offering to Christ, through submission to His purpose and plans.

This process of becoming free from our chains will not be simple. Our past has contributed to our present, and is a part of the lens through which we see and experience life. Exchanging our limited understanding of the world, for God’s wisdom and will is scary and can leave us feeling naked and vulnerable.

Yet, God accepts the offering of our vulnerability, and gives us new strength.

If we are willing to patiently undergo the excavation process, confronting our hurts without succumbing to the numbing or avoidance options that the world offers,

He will give us wings like eagles to rise high above the pain of our past.

We will run the race and not become weary

We will walk and not feel faint.

For prayer on today’s topic please stop by Daily Hope & a Prayer.

For further study- Isaiah:40

So, for all of you who, like me, feel more like it’s a Wednesday than a Monday, here’s…

The Road to Perfection {and LINKY}

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)

The Word of God teaches us that if we love Christ, we will obey His commands. God did not command us to walk in ‘only human’ love. No, instead, He commands us to walk in perfection.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NIV)

That’s a serious command right there.

It stands in direct opposition to what the world teaches us about love’s strength, or it’s justice. Any cinema or literature fan can tell you about the joy experienced when the perfect couple finally finds each other, the hero receives his due reward, or the villain his comeuppance. But, grace and forgiveness offered to those deserving of death? Or love and mercy shown to the proud and hateful? Not once, nor twice, but seventy-seven times! Most of us don’t want to offer forgiveness to the same offender three times, and much less to those who exceed the “fool me three times” limit.

Such unfettered mercy certainly doesn’t seem like love’s strength or justice.

Yet, as Christ-followers, we are commanded to walk in a manner that reflects the perfect love we have received. And although love may be a pretty word to say, as Christ-seekers, we understand that

The road to perfect love is adorned with jewels of suffering.

While our imaginations create scenarios in which we find and settle into happily ever after with perfect relationships and perfect people, real life is full of twists and turns where those we love the most are often the source of our greatest hurts and disappointments.

Like Christ, if we are ever to ascend into the realm of perfect love, we must first be willing to descend into the pits of despair.

Following Christ will inevitably lead each of us to a place where we come face to face with betrayal and loss, and realize that this is where we must stop, honestly examine our situation, humbly set down our right to avenge and vindicate ourselves, and choose to love beyond our pain.

Matthew 5:43-48 is love in action.

I love these scriptures because it challenges me to be better than who I am. When everything in me is crying out “But, I’m only human!”, these scriptures say “So?”

When I’m ready to throw in the towel, and choose self-will over the humiliation of humility, Christ lays a hand on my shoulder, points to the wounds in His hands and asks “And?”

Yet, grace abounds more and more in this glorious process of surrender. The very nature of this incredible command requires that I submit my desires, and set my mind, fully to and on my Savior, so that He can enable me to successfully comply to His will. Because,

Perfectly loving those who have hurt me is impossible without the Spirit of Christ.

But through the power of Christ, I am transformed, and He enables me to accomplish the impossible.  This is the goal of perfect love, that we might be able to be used to love like Christ.  And that through love,  the blind would receive their sight, the lame would walk, lepers would be cleansed, the deaf could hear, the dead would be raised up, and the poor in spirit would hear the good news. (Matthew 11:5 ESV)

For prayer on today’s topic please stop by Daily Hope & a Prayer.

For further study- Matthew 5:43-48

So, for all of you who, like me, feel more like it’s a Wednesday than a Monday, here’s…

 

Morning Always Comes {and LINKY}

I think way too much. Like many, I overthink, analyzing a problem from 70 different angles, determined to anticipate, and prepare for, any outcome.

I have learned through the years that this is an impossible endeavor.

In spite of all my examining and planning, I never seem to be able to adequately prepare for the unknown.

Try as I might, I am not omniscient.

I am not God.

In my flesh, I find this reality terribly frightening. Like Eve, I desire the ability to know and understand as He does. I long be ‘like God’, knowing good and evil, competent to lead and direct my life because I have all the facts.

But, this desire, fueled by pride and self-reliance, is utterly futile.

Facing the stark reality that I am too foolish, weak, or ignorant to lead my own life used to leave me feeling desperately inadequate.

The truth is, sometimes it still does.

In the darkness of my situation, I anxiously grope for something familiar, and strong, that can alleviate my fear, and guide me along my path, and into the light.

If I allow myself to give in to my flesh, I will begin to worry that I will never escape the blackness that threatens to engulf me.

But thankfully,

I serve a gracious God who has promised to never leave me or forsake me.

And just as His grace is sure and certain,

I am confident that God’s faithfulness is eternal.

Even in my moments, or seasons, of darkness, my God relentlessly pursues me in love. He stands beside me, holding out his hand to steady me and lead me back to Himself. He is the truth and the light, and all who follow Him have the light of life.

The light of Christ breaks through the coldest, darkest situations, freeing us from the captivity of fear and doubt. It not only allows us to see where we are, but enables us to catch a glimpse of where we are going. Like the distant outline of a great and beautiful city, we can just barely make out the wonder ahead of us. His light also allows us to clearly see how far we have come, where we have come from, and all that we have made it through. With our path now more clearly illuminated, we find new courage and are empowered to stand on new and renewed faith.

Yes, in this world we will face trouble. And in the tentative uncertainty of our situation, we will struggle against worry, dread, and perhaps even heartbreak.

But only until the morning.

Be encouraged dear one,

the morning always comes.

And with it, the blessed light of the Son.

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” – Psalms 30:5

For further study- Hebrews 10

For prayer on today’s topic please stop by Daily Hope & a Prayer.

So, for all of you who, like me, feel more like it’s a Wednesday than a Monday, here’s…

The Beauty of Irony {and LINKY}

 

Our story is still unfolding {and LINKY}

In November of 2003, I remember having a very philosophical conversation with a young man who was a friend at the time. He wasn’t a real friend. He was the worldly, crab in the barrel, company-while-you’re-getting-high kind of friend.

That evening, as we sat there, hiding from life, and our various hurts, I felt very wise as I advised him about his current situation. Apparently there was a good woman to whom he wouldn’t commit, and instead he kept choosing the same type of unstable relationship.  The answer to his situation seemed so clear – he was caught in a circular web of fear. It wasn’t the first time I had given someone that particular kind of advice. But that night was different.

Suddenly, and much to my surprise, the Lord opened my eyes, and for the first time I truly looked and saw

the irony.

With new revelation, I could see the chains of fear that had kept me falsely imprisoned for so long.  And all at once, more than anything I had wanted in a long time, I wanted to be free.

Alone, the Lord accomplished the miraculous in my life.

In spite of how bleak my future looked to my therapist, my doctors, my friends, and much of my family – Jesus entered my life, cleansed my heart, and rescued me.  He performed the impossible against a million to one odds, and still, today, I am humbled by his power, mercy and grace.

But that wasn’t the end of my story.

The trauma of what I endured as a slave to sin would take years to heal from. Indeed, I am still recovering.

Yet, God consistently proves Himself faithful.

As I have grown in Christ I have had mountaintop experiences, and I have been bowed over in exhaustion, worn and broken in the valley.  At my weakest points, one truth has shown brighter than all others:

Christ’s power in made perfect in my weakness.

I have endured hurts and disappointments that I am almost certain were designed to destroy me. In truth, there were times when I almost wished they would – if only to escape the heartbreak and fear that seemingly assaulted me on all sides.

But, as I have kept my eyes on Him, choosing to stand on His promises and trusting in His provision,

He has never let me fall.

Sometimes the best fight we can offer is to resolve to stand on faith – and if we must fall, to land with desperate, gritty, determined faith, onto our knees.

I would like to be able to say that after the Lord removed my chains in 2003 I was never bound again. But to do so would be untruthful.

While the Lord has faithfully kept me from returning to the drug, alcohol and sexual addictions that kept me broken, He continues to show me that

I am a much-loved work in progress.

The sins of self-interest: pride, anger, fear and selfishness are often at the root of our rebellious behavior. And only a walk by the Spirit, committed and submitted to the Lord allows us victory over those.

Some seasons are better than others.

I have encountered trials that require me to cling forcefully to Christ if I have any hope of peace, joy or victory.  And interestingly, these have also provided my greatest experiencesof peace, joy and victory.

Those are the seasons when faith makes room for God’s abundant grace.

Though eventually, I become comfortable, or perhaps distracted, and my eyes shift their focus. It never occurs quickly, but little choices and seemingly small events signify that my attention has drifted. Inevitably, I find that I have wandered into an unkempt garden, overrun with the prickly thorns and tangled vines of self-interest.

But even when I have fallen short, I find joy in being known by Christ, because

His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Daily, we can rejoice because there is forgiveness at the cross.

With a shout of victory we can dance unbound, because there is freedom by His Spirit.

And as we press ever closer to Christ, our individual stories, by the grace of His love, and through the might of His power, are steadily unfolding.

For prayer on today’s topic please stop by Daily Hope & a Prayer.

For further study- 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Colossians 1:13-14

For more encouragement on this subject please visit me at Beliefnet.com.

So, for all of you who, like me, feel more like it’s a Wednesday than a Monday, here’s…

Daily Hope & a Prayer – March 30

And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. Matthew 18:33-35 (ESV)

Dear Father,

I praise You Lord for the forgiveness You have offered to me, and continually offer me. Thank you for seeing past my sin and faults, and pursuing me with love. Thank you for offering me mercy and grace when I only deserved death. Thank you for extending to me hope and love, when I was ignorant to the fact that I desperately needed You.

Lord, I give my heart to You to mold and grow. There are individuals in my life who have hurt me. Help me to forgive them fully, as You have forgiven me. Forgive me for making excuses regarding why I am unable to extend the same mercy to them that I have received from You. Remind me of how much I have to be grateful for, and overflow my heart with a desire to offer the same love and grace to others that You have modeled to me. Help me to understand the importance of forgiving others. And when I am unable to forgive like Christ, show me how to come to You for the strength and humility that is necessary to release, and be healed from, the hurt, anger, unforgiveness, pride and bitterness that I am holding onto. Teach me how to choose to walk in forgiveness, and give me the self-discipline necessary to continue walking in forgiveness for the deep hurts that I struggle with. May the path of mercy lead me into a closer and more intimate relationship with You.

I pray that You would be glorified through my life, and that You would be able to use my walk with Christ as a model of love, mercy, and grace in the lives of others.

In Jesus name I pray this,

Amen

From curve ball to curve ball

It was long overdue.

After watching me struggle and fumble, and ultimately end up bowed down by the weight of the world, and shoulder deep in the messiness of life, the Lord, in His infinite mercy, reached down and helped me to stand. From this slightly higher vantage point, I was granted an even clearer view of the mess, which, to my surprise, was much more self-inflicted that I had imagined.

With the Lord faithfully leading, loving and standing with me, the purging process has begun. Although it started off very painful, and some days are better than others, there is more joy, peace, and vision that I have had in a very, very long time. There is one reason for this.

Instead of a Christian walk marred by distractions, and led by my own faulty knowledge and self-will, I desperately cling to Christ, continually seeking Him through prayer, study and meditation, so that I might abide in His presence.

In a spirit of transparency, these are not new lessons. These are spiritual principles that were hard-learned, through similar painful experiences, a long enough time ago that I should not have forgotten. In effect – I should have known better. I should have remembered the importance of abiding in Him who keeps me, so that my heart, will, and mind were welcoming toward Him abiding in me. Yet, here I am, in a new, but similar lesson.

I am thankful that I serve a God who does not waste a single tear, hurt, or bruised knee (or even bruised pride). He grieves when I grieve. It breaks his heart when I lay broken before Him due to personal choices and forgotten lessons, because this is why He sacrificed all – so that I might live in victory both now, and with Him in eternity.
This season had brought about new and long-desired personal changes. My life, family schedule, school work, and homeschooling schedule are all more organized and more productive. My children’s extracurricular schedule was once again active, engaging and full. My mind is less cluttered, and as a result, both my house and car are less cluttered.

The biggest change of all is still being revealed. With firmness, and gentleness, God showed me how I had ignored and misinterpreted His will in regards to profession and ministry. While dealing with the difficulties and distractions of life, I had chosen that which was more comfortable and desirable. After much prayer and seeking the Lord, I submitted this area of my life, and was preparing to be obedient to the will of God. In spite of the very difficult struggles that I am facing, all-in-all, life seemed to be pretty good.

And then the contractions started. Lots of contractions. Painful contractions. Contractions that made it hard to walk and climb stairs. Under normal circumstances, contractions that are not pre-labor would be perfectly fine. It’s the body’s way of preparing for birth. But, my circumstances aren’t normal. This is my fifth pregnancy – my fifth c-section, and during the last two c-sections the ob-gyn noted uterine defects that make me an unusually high-risk for uterine rupture. Suddenly, my wilderness – painful, but slowly coming to a point of peace and productivity – seemed only painful. Mandated bed-rest abruptly put our productive schedule, extracurricular activities, and homeschooling at risk. The changes in regards to profession and ministry seemed to come to a halt. I was devastated. But He wouldn’t let me go.

He tugged at me, and pulled at me. I ignored Him in my anger.

Discouraged and frustrated at yet another curve ball.

Right when things seemed to being coming under control, I was suddenly faced with the truth – I was not in control.

For hours I ignored His pull at my heart. I put the children to bed and decided to watch TV, and then the TV wouldn’t work. I decided to play a computer game. The game wouldn’t work. So I decided to pray. I railed at God. I cried out in frustration and anger and sadness. The grief from my soul rose higher and higher until the could feel the pressure pulsing at my temples.

And then – the tears came.

Groping the pillow so that I could cry without waking anyone, I cried, and cried, and held the pillow tightly. When I was done, I could breathe a little easier, and I could hear Him a little clearer:

“I am here. I am present. Trust me. Wait for me. You are not waiting in vain. Keep praying diligently. At just the right time, in my perfect timing, I will appear. When the fulfillment of My promise will have the greatest effect for change, it will arrive. Those who wait on me will not be ashamed. I am doing something you can not imagine.”
As I prayed, and studied His Word, I remembered to cling, and to abide. The peace came, trust increased, and the calm replaced the anger, fear, and doubt. Yes, this was a curve ball that I had known was possible, but I was not prepared for it. I was just becoming settled in the wilderness. I had begun to feel slightly victorious as I awaited rescue, and as I awaited His promise of restoration, healing and peace. Thankfully, my God does not waste tears. He does not waste grief.

He does not waste curve balls.

Once I submitted, I realized that many of the routines we had set in place this year worked quite nicely with schooling from my bed. My children love it. Further, the Lord had already positioned supportive family around me to support me and help carry the weight.

Of this I have become convinced: if the Lord is allowing this situation, He will use it. Perhaps a season is coming that will require me to have spent more isolated and intimate time with him than my busy wilderness provided. Perhaps I am being blessed with a season of rest I would have never have taken, besides. Nonetheless, there is one things of which I am certain. I can trust Him, because he has never failed me. Not once.