When Hope Hurts

artem-kovalev-86365-unsplashOur bird mamma is back. Penelope- the one that’s decided our rotting patio cover is the perfect place to build her nest. I love this crazy, determined, cutie-pie bird.

The irony is not lost on me. I feel like I’m observing a bird version of myself. All the hopes of my heart to adopt over the past five years seem overshadowed by the decay that surrounds them. Five years of broken expectations. Four failed adoptions —  one international, three domestic — chipping away at the strength of my spirit.

But here I sit, day after day, choosing to knit my nest together with God’s promises, while everything around me threatens to cave in.

What is your my nesting egg? The desire of your heart that you believe God planted? Have you asked God to remove it if it’s not his will? I have. Over and over. Yet it remains. And even when the lies of the enemy are crudely constructed, attempting to cover up the promise that God’s plans are to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11a), His truth still is not obstructed. I can still feel it. Besides, “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24b–25 ESV).

I may have to grope clumsily in the darkness for a season, but it’s there. Because God is eternal and God is hope.

What is eternal cannot be extinguished.

Did you know the biblical word for hope, tiqvah, literally translates to cord, hope, and expectation? It’s used in the story of Rahab. She’s instructed to tie a scarlet cord (tiqvah, hope) in her window to remain unharmed. (Joshua 2:18). Hope protects us. It’s a holy signal to the enemy that he can’t touch us. It’s the scarlet cord we unabashedly display over our doorframe that cries out, “I belong to King Jesus!”

Grasping it like a rope, I’ve tried to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 ESV). I still struggle, asking God, Why are you making us wait so long for the desires of our heart?!

In all transparency, my hands have grown weary and calloused from clinging to the rope for so long.  It hurts. My hopeful waiting has been seasoned with suffering. But isn’t this part of the blessing? Callouses give us the ability to endure situations that would naturally tear our hearts wide open. It takes time and endurance for callouses to form.

In high school, I cursed the callouses that formed while trying to learn to play the guitar. However, the first time my fingertips were tough enough to press on the strings to play a worship song, I was flooded with understanding. The momentary discomfort I’d endured made it possible for me to sing a new song of praise. I don’t know all the reasons we’re asked to wait. However, I do know there is a perfectly holy reason for every situation. We are called to hope (Ephesians 4:4), and that means we are called to wait. Not just to wait but also to look.

In fact, the Hebrew root of the word hope is ka-va, meaning to wait, to look for. Faith-filled hope is active. When I find myself wrestling with discouragement, I’m really wrestling with my passivity.  Hope requires that we’re eager watchmen on the tower of our days, scanning the valley for signs of life. Just like Penelope, who is oblivious to the rot around her because her eyes are on the tiny, yet wildly adored, promise beneath her. She waits. She watches.

She constantly tends to the hope among the decay. Sweet Jesus, teach me to do this!

The idea of becoming foster parents was like realizing there was another egg in the nest we’d never noticed! It’s only through the sustaining grip of God’s love that we kept diligent watch over the ragged nest perched in our hearts. I praise God for the gift of hope. I thank Him for reminding me that hope is my protection, my courage, my confidence, my calling, and my strength! I raise my hands in praise, calloused as they are from clinging to hope, to the one that gives life to His promises.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

God’s word is always the best source of encouragement! Click here for a beautiful printout of verses celebrating hope in Jesus:God’s Word-Marked by Love-Hope

Sign up for your FREE printable download!

I hope you love it!



`

 

Inviting Grief to Dinner

tamara-bellis-125877-unsplash (1)The Southern California rain surprised all humanity this year, giving my kiddos a false sense of hope, “Mommy, do you think they’ll close the schools because it’s raining?!”

Um, no. That’s not a thing.

The brown hills by our house have exploded into yellow flowers. They press on their tippy-toes waving hello. Maybe California should cancel school, offering a day to admire the new life with neighbors. Because when it comes to new life, we really go out of our way to celebrate it don’t we? If we desire the company of new life, we’ll find she always brings a guest.

Life and death sit side by side. So often we shoo the experience of grieving to the “obligatory guest” table. No one wants him at the party…but sooner or later, he shows up. I photographed weddings for years, and I promise you, there’s always a wacky relative in attendance (psssst… it’s your uncle). One wedding reception, the exuberant uncle was on the dance floor, flat on his back, pretending to look up the bride’s dress. Yeah. Sometimes grief acts like that guy.  Meaning- he has no sense of social awareness. We find ourselves asking, who invited him anyways?! 

But it’s not his fault. When we shove the process of grieving far into the burrow of our lives; he’s forced to rear his head at the most inconvenient times. Can you relate? The checker at Vons asks if you have bags and you burst into tears because you left them in the car. If grief wants your attention, he’s ruthlessly successful. I’m finding that depriving him the attention he craves, only makes him fervently jump up and down.

I’ve decided it’s best to offer him a space to be heard.

Learning to set a place for grief at our table is a grueling and powerful act of faith. But it needs to be done. Joy is painfully birthed out of sorrow. When we pull the chair out from under him and ask him to leave, we’re telling him he’s not important to our story; that he has nothing of value to add to the conversation. When in reality, God often uses our grief to scoot our chair closer to joy.  God wants to speak to each of us through our sufferings.

Many believers experience guilt over admitting they’re sad. The idea of feeling guilty for grieving is not biblical! We’re taught we should rejoice in our sufferings, to always be happy because we have Jesus. There’s truth here. However, the rejoicing does not negate the suffering- it accompanies it.

God has filled me with inexplicable joy over our new journey to be foster parents. But honestly, it’s the grief of failed adoptions that brought us here. It’s impossible for me to separate my new joy from my concurrent grief. They’re powerfully intertwined. Have we forgotten that Jesus wept three times in scripture? Each time, coupled with an occurrence of great joy: before the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:35); right after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); and in the garden before his own death and resurrection leading to the salvation of mankind (Hebrews 5:7).

It is possible to sit next to joy and grief at the same time. It’s healthy to look grief the face and “talk it out” or “cry it out” or slap him in the face. Whatever you need to do to acknowledge they’re times he’s going to come to dinner and you can’t ignore him. We’ve got to deal. But we’re not alone. God’s table is big. It may mean we pull up more chairs for counselors or sisters in Christ to help us mediate the conversation. Or, maybe we need to excuse ourselves for a “prayer break,” or take a moment to wash our wounds in The Word.

As we become more intentional in setting a place for grief, we can’t lose sight that where God allows sorrow, he assigns great joy.  “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b)

God’s word beautifully reminds us that he’s with us in our suffering. Check out these Bible verses for inspiration: God’s Word-Marked by Love- Suffering

p.s. If the voice of your grief is consistently louder than the voice of your loving Father, you may be experiencing depression. They are not the same thing. Please feel free to message me and I would be honored to help you find a counselor.

Sign up for your FREE printable download!

I hope you love it!

* indicates required


I

`

 

More Words. More Mess.

Last week, I had a –how did my walls get this dirty?! – kind of day. Our adoption social worker was coming over to redo our home safety report (because they LOST the original. Yup.)

I can’t even. I found myself, knees pressed to the wood floors, scrubbing off fingerprints…or maybe they’re toe-prints? I don’t even know.

One smudge rallied so hard against my efforts- it was like a caveman painting fighting to not be erased from our home history.

So how did my walls get so dirty? Because people live here; little dirty people and big dirty people. This is our safe place; our “come as you are “place.

Let’s be real- Our safest walls are always the messiest.

When they walk through the doors of this house, I don’t demand they clean up right away. I don’t insist on showers the second they burst through the door from hours of bike-riding, or soccer-playing or middle-school surviving.

I let them rest a bit. Breathe a bit. Eat a snack. Grab a drink. I let them just…be. And although this is a picture of grace, it’s still not excusable for them to intentionally wipe a muddy cleat on my hypothetical white rug, or smudge a happy face on walls with their grubby fingers.

Our home parallels our relationships. The more intimate the relationship, the messier it can get. The safer we feel, the more careless we can become. There are days my hubby comes home and I soil his spirit with careless words, sarcastic comebacks, and hurtful eye rolls. All the junk that’s clung to my shoes and wedged under my skin from the day, I carry straight to my people.

It’s OK…but it’s not OK. We have to take responsibility for checking the condition of our hearts when we enter our safe spaces. We can’t treat our people like it’s their job to stand still and let us wipe our junk all over them.

When my kids come in stinky and tired, it’s true, I let them rest. But eventually, they’re getting in that shower y’all! It’s the same with our attitudes and spirits.

The home is where grace and discipleship should be profoundly weaved together. Healthy homes cannot have discipleship without grace, and grace is not effective without discipleship.

I try to hold my tongue when someone spills in my home. It’s simply human nature to mess up, but even more so, to sin. There’s no value gained by verbally ripping into my family, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” (Proverbs 10:19).

However, I don’t allow them to walk away without taking responsibility to clean up. When the mess is dripping off the table, soaking my rug, I’ll snatch another towel and jump on the floor with my kiddo to help. At times, the stain is so tricky, I’ll need to explain how I know white wine gets out most anything.  Our kids are still kids. We need to guide them on how to clean up the messes they make.

This same model of discipleship can be used when our kiddos verbally smear their siblings. I’m struck by The Message’s version of Matthew 18, “But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments…”

As parents, don’t we get it?! I know I struggle to remember this! It’s not the words we should be scurrying to mop up- it’s the “vomit” collecting in our hearts. We offer astounding love when we help our kids notice there’s a well from which they draw their words. Harsh words and attitudes don’t pollute the heart; they ooze from a polluted heart.

We all have days that leave our souls caked with mud-like frustration. It’s expected we’ll need a safe space to wash up. But showing someone our dirty hands is different than shoving it on them.

It’s my instinctual reaction to yell, don’t you dare say that! or apologize right now! But I’m praying for patience and wisdom. Maybe the question I should really pull my kiddos aside and ask is, why do you think you just said that? And instead of demanding a flippant apology, challenge them to think, why do you think I’m asking you to apologize?

If we don’t teach our kids, (and ourselves!) how to ‘heart check’ in the midst of bubbling emotions, we’ll be spewing all over our beloved home asking, how did our walls get so dirty?!

God’s word beautifully reminds us that our words have the power to give life.  Check out these Bible verses for inspiration: God’s Word Marked by Love

Sign up for your FREE printable download!

I hope you love it!

* indicates required


I

`

 

Rescue

7641c9632e05c79c0b2602c1114b1922

Lord, search my heart, show me who I am without you.

I imagine picking up a pen…

Today, I lost it with my kids.
Yesterday, I wished I had a bigger house.
Sunday, I blamed my husband for my big mess up.

I quickly realize, there aren’t enough hours to visit all my failings. My mental scribbles expand:

                                                   Wanting More.
                                                   Ignoring God. 
                                                  Nasty Words.

My mind runs out of paper. But just as well; paper can’t hold the weight of the words. I imagine writing on massive stones:
                                                   Envy.
                                                  Disobedience.
                                                 Complacency.
                                                 Arrogance.
                                                Selfishness.

I see my desk covered with papers. They’re tumbling off, pressing against the walls and pouring out the windows like an avalanche. The stones have shattered my mirrors and cracked the tile floors.

My heart is sinking from the pull of my words; from the burden of my sin. But God shouts through the condemnation:

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”(Colossians 2:13-14)

A man is coming. He’s collecting my papers…one by one.

A man is coming. He lifts the heavy stones, balancing them on his back.

There’s something else on his back too.

A cross.

He leaves my house and painstakingly searches for my neighbors. They have a collection of papers and stones… just like me.

Not everyone lets him in. They sit atop their stones clutching their mass of papers and weep.

It breaks my heart. I know it breaks His more.

Now the man begins his climb. I know the story. You know the story. He carries his cross. I imagine him bearing the stones and crumpled papers scribbled with black sin.

He doesn’t drop anything. Not a single thing.

He grips my written sin; the soldiers hammer nails through his hands.

Flesh pierced. Paper torn.

My selfishness: Nailed to the cross.
My arrogance: Nailed to the cross.
My apathy: Nailed to the cross.

Blood flows, drenching the papers in his hand, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against me.

I watch every sin of my life nailed to the cross.
He took it all away, having nailed it to the cross.
He took it all away.
He took it all away.
He took it all away.
Amen.

The only stone remaining was rolled away.

Sign up for your FREE printable download!

I hope you love it!

* indicates required


I

 

Someone’s Going to Get Hurt.

clem-onojeghuo-219194-unsplash

Once, I swung open the front door of my mini-van, jumped inside, heard a growl, peeked over my shoulder and found myself face to face with two black dogs.

Seriously, who the heck put their stinkin’ dogs in my mini-van?!

Um. Yeah. Not my mini-van.

It’s a bit terrifying how long it took to realize my mistake.

No one in the van was happy…and somebody definitely peed a little.

Here’s the deal: Don’t climb into someone else’s mini-van uninvited. It doesn’t matter how much it looks like yours. Same goes for our lives. Someone may appear to have a similar life, outlook, circumstance, parenting triumph or woe – but until you’ve entered in, you’ve no clue what’s really going on inside.

Never assume. It’s a waste of time. And don’t barge in. It’s too risky.

Wait to be invited.

This can be so tricky. Especially if the door of their life appears wide open.  Dusty goldfish are pouring out, the leaking juice box under the backpack has puddled next to a runaway credit card. You just want to offering a suggestion…right?! Stop. There could be some snarling teeth in there. Someone’s going to get hurt.

I can’t tell you how many friendships in my life have been strained because we’ve felt judged by one another.  It makes all of us shut down and pull away. Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Have I established mutual trust with this person?

If you haven’t known this person long, and you get all up in their business, it can feel like judgement. It may not be your heart! But remember, they don’t trust you yet. It’s not fair to expect them to know your intentions. Be wise and hold your tongue. But love them like crazy. Be a constant in their life.

  1. Has this person indicated they want your opinion?

I have friends who I know don’t want my opinion- even though they love and trust me. Bummer is, I’m still prone to give it. We’ve got to know our audience y’all.  It’s hard for this Italian/Irish girl to shut it down! I’m learning at the speed of molasses – I need to discipline myself in this area.

Does your friend let her kids watch rated R movies at the age of nine…guess what?!

That’s not your mini-van!

Or maybe a friend doesn’t believe in vaccinations, or home-school, or private school, or public school, or any school!!

Yeah. That’s not your mini-van either. Get out girl!

It’s hard to be a mom these days. Everyone and every book out there hisses, “You’re doing it wrong” or, “You can do it better.” Our generation has trouble trusting God can equip us properly.

We turn to the next, “How to…” book, before we turn to God’s book.

We ask Siri before we ask the Spirit.

I believe the enemy’s in this; undermining our God-given instincts to parent our children well. He uses social media, articles and most aggressively- he baits us to tear each other down. We don’t need to be another blasting horn of judgement towards our sisters! God’s heart is for us to, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Don’t know how to do this? I think it starts with less worrying about getting into someone else’s life, and inviting them authentically into your own. Living out grace is a powerful witness and gift; loving people regardless of their parenting choices. If a friend does ask your opinion, it’s a safe place to practice honesty. Any fiery pups in her mini-van should know you well enough not to snap.

Sign up for your FREE printable download!

I hope you love it!

* indicates required


P.S. If you feel convicted that God truly wants you to speak into a certain area of someone’s life, be obedient! But pray over it. Then pray again…and then three more times. Be sure it’s from the Lord and not your inner-conscious.  When this happens, frame the conversation cautiously and with grace, “I’ve had you on my heart lately.”  That’s it. Then pray God leads the conversation.

How to Live Out Sisterhood When You Live in the Mommyhood.

aleksandra-mazur-80011-unsplash

I have one big brother; and he is all brother. When we were kiddos, his love language was messing with me. I believed his Every. Single. Word. Stuff, like-

At the age of 12, I’d be sent to live on an Indian Reservation to make bead necklaces for the rest of my life–because I was a girl.

And…

Dr. Pepper was called “Dr. Pepper” because you were supposed to pour red crushed peppers in before you drank up.

I’m relieved my parents forgot to send me away, and eventually, I traded sucking red crushed peppers through stubborn straws for my beloved non-fat, with-whip, mochas.

My whole life I’ve had the ‘fun’ of knowing what it means to have a brother…but not a sister.  Last week my daughter received a letter with the precious words crayoned,

“Ciana, you can call me Sister”.

I read it over and over, and all the feel-goods sprinkled over my spirit. My cousin’s daughter had written them. She’s adopted from Uganda and understands more than most, love makes a family. And God is that love. We enter a loving relationship with God; strike down genetic laws; and become sisters with other believers. But it doesn’t always feel that way.

If someone at church referred to me as ‘sister’…I figured they’d forgotten my name. Honestly, there are times when hearing it from random ladies makes me roll all my eyes. Why can it feel so patronizing? When it’s stripped down: we may be sisters in God’s family, but we often struggle to treat one another that way.  It’s not on purpose! We’re busy. We’re tired. We’re overwhelmed keeping precious little humans alive and forget to really pray when we say we will.

When someone in a family struggles, it affects the whole household. If something is lost, all grubby fingers dig under the couch cushions to find it. If one kiddo hurls their body into the mini-van late, all the kiddos run like hyenas to get to class on time. If you’re in a healthy family, your lives are intertwined. But if you don’t live under the same roof, this gets tough. I think of the letters between Ciana and Milla.  At such a young age, they’re making an effort to keep their lives intertwined. And that’s the key…they’re intentional.

True sisterhood speaks these words:

When you struggle, my spirit will wrestle in prayer for you.

When you’re lost in an area of life, I’ll search God’s word for answers with you.

When you feel you’ll never make it to the finish line, I’ll carry your heavy diaper bag.

But how can we authenticate our spoken words of sisterhood when life is so….much?

Here are three things I’ve found to be practical, powerful & completely do-able:

1. Fast together.

When a friend lays out a deep concern over coffee, I offer to fast with them for a week over the issue. Fasting doesn’t have to be dramatic. It can simply mean going without something you enjoy and replacing it with specific prayer.  I typically choose to stop eating sugar. The struggle is so for real. Every time I’m all cravy, I stop right there and pray for whatever unique trial my friend is dealing with.

2. Pray at the same time everyday together.

Most likely, you don’t see your friend every day. So set an alarm on your phone to remind you both to stop what you’re doing and pray. I had a friend who was struggling with her husband when he came home from work. We set our phones to alert us to pray thirty minutes before he got home. When we were done praying, we would simply text, “Amen,” to each other.

3. Dedicate a prayer journal to your friend.

 I love to do this! I buy thin journal packs at TJ Maxx or HomeGoods, sharpie a friend’s name on the cover, and fill it up with prayers over their life. Some fill up faster than others and I don’t do it every day. Sometimes I’ll take a quick picture of the cover and text it to my friend saying, ‘You were just covered in prayer.” I imagine when I go home to Jesus; my children will find them and deliver them to my living friends.

I’m praying these practical tips spur your relationships to a deeper level. It’s not easy when you’re in the jungle of ‘Adulting’. But that’s why it’s so important, isn’t it? We all need to know someone is genuinely in the thick with us. We all want someone to take the time to say, “Friend, you can call me Sister.”

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)



Breathing in the Unknown

christopher-sardegna-1735-unsplash.jpg

I kept banging around the bowl trying to corner him, “Seriously fish! Trust me!”

Talking to my blue fish has become the norm these days. He’s the kind of guy who’d never leave dirty socks on the floor. And, he never asks things like, Mommy, why do you laugh like a seal? He’s such a gentleman.

Each week he graciously swims into my net to be transferred to clean water.

But, yesterday! He gave the biggest attitude. He wouldn’t get into the net and it wasn’t funny! If he didn’t want this water, he was welcome to the toilet I’d scrubbed earlier.

I crashed my net against the glass again, “I don’t want you to get sick!”.

My heart winced. I was on the verge of being sick too…spiritually sick. I knew it, and God was getting my attention. I was all bent out of shape over this fish not letting me save it from poop water, as I defiantly swam in my own.

I recently expected God to move in a certain way in my life…and he didn’t. I was heartbroken.

I’d rather be submerged in disappointment, then be transferred into God’s perspective of my circumstances. I was over it. Over praying. Over crying. Over…whelmed.

Still, here was God, trying to rescue me, “Seriously child! Trust me. I don’t want you to get sick!”

God’s love has never failed me. He’s carried me like, a Father carries a son, out of every Egypt and wilderness I’ve faced. Why was I banging my head against the bowl trying to escape rescue?

If I enter into God’s saving net, He’ll raise me up into a pocket of air called the unknown.

Let’s be honest, breathing in the unknown, can hurt.

I got that stubborn fish in the net, he wriggled in desperation, gasping, until I plopped him safely in clean water. When we’re scooped up into God’s purposes, we don’t have to mimic a suffocating fish. If it feels like we can’t breathe, it’s because we’re choking on lies.

Here is the truth: God isn’t going to flush us down the toilet.

We can enter into the unknown, clinging confidently to the known.

We know our God is good!

Abandoning the mire and surrendering to hope, elevates us to a new atmosphere. Like those who train to climb Mt. Everest, it will stretch and challenge the lungs of our faith. The air is thin and burns our chest.

Yet, our Father teaches us a new way to breathe. Instead of gasping on lies, we deeply inhale his promises.

One by one-

He loves us. He lifts us higher.

He fights for us. We grow stronger.

He’s with us. We have peace.

Our mighty God will always deliver us to a place of hope and beauty.

“There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” -Deuteronomy 1:30-31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Fish Faith

img_0998

I ended up with a pet fish last month. I say “ended up,” because I did not want, ask for, or like this fish. I actually don’t like fish unless they have been grilled, fried or baked. I certainly don’t like them looking bored in a bowl on the kitchen counter. But my sweet eight year old daughter has her daddy wrapped around his caring finger. So when the two of them ran into the pet store to grab dog food, she came back to the car proudly carrying a fish in a cup.

“Mommy! Me and Daddy bought you a pet fish!”

“Oh? Why?”

“Because! Isn’t he so pretty? And, he was on sale!”

Well then, if he was on sale…I’d love to have another dirty animal to care for -on top of the dog, the bunny, and two leopard geckos.

“Oh, thank you, Sweet Girl. He is super pretty.”

Ugh!

I have a horrible history with pet fish. Seriously. Once I cooked my goldfish. I didn’t realize my mom had just washed the dishes with burning hot water. I filled a cup unknowingly with scalding water and carefully transfered my goldfish into it so I could clean his bowl. Within seconds, this doomed fish turned upside down, his scales white.

Poor fish. I don’t even remember his name.

So here I was, once again with the task of caring for a gilled creature. His name is London. My daughter is right. He’s really pretty. London is a Betta fish with long, flowing fins circling all around him.

Two weeks in, London stopped eating. He sulked at the bottom of his bowl. His fins looked burdened and heavy. He had weird white spots. I actually felt sad! I needed to find out if I could help London. I had a responsibility to keep this fish alive.

For one thing, it was a gift from my daughter. Second, I wanted to somehow redeem myself for murdering what’s-his-name all those years ago.

I Googled, “What to do if Betta fish gets sick.” I went to the pet store, bought special water drops. Our family prayed for him before dinner.

While washing dishes a few days later, something caught my attention. A bright blue, poetic-like thrashing called me to London’s bowl. He was at the water’s surface, fins fanned and dancing around his body. He was hungry! I dropped one small fish food pellet in at a time. He literally jumped up out of the water to catch the first one. He was ravenous. He shimmied and waited intently for more. He was healthy again.

Believe it or not, God’s Spirit spoke to me as I fed this silly little fish. He has been chasing me down with a verse from the Psalms for months. It’s been in worship songs and every podcast I’ve decided to turn on. My daughter even wrote her own devotional using the same verse. When I cleaned out the garage last week, I opened a devotional and on the top of the page was this same verse…again.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” Psalm 34:8

My response to to this verse had been, “Yes, Lord, I know You are good. You are so good.”  But, as I watched how breathtaking this fish was when he was hungry, deeper truth whispered to me.

Just as London had become gorgeous in his hunger…we are gorgeous in our Father’s eyes when we hunger for Him. He is longing for us to hover at the top of every moment, intently waiting to receive from Him.

If I want to taste the full goodness of God, I must first be hungry for Him. Not just hungry, but ravenous. Ravenous for His Word, His presence, His direction, His love. I must be swimming to the top of my prayer life, jumping out in faith to taste His goodness.

If God looks upon me and I’m sulking at the bottom of my day – with no desire to taste His goodness, no desire to be nourished by His Word – it’s an indication that I’m spiritually sick.

How can we taste of God’s goodness if we are not coming to His table to eat? And, why would we come to His table if we weren’t hungry? We’re  not called to come to His table as an afterthought. We wouldn’t insult a host by filling up on a meal we cooked ourselves before we went to their home for dinner. In the same way, we owe God our full appetite.

What had I been filling my soul with BEFORE coming to the Lord’s table? Was I leaving only enough space in my spiritual stomach for a small sampling of the Lord’s goodness?

Our mighty God is not an appetizer.  

He is not a dessert to finish our day with.

His very Word, His presence, His love is to be the bread that sustains me all day, every day. Nothing else. The Lord will only fill us with what we’ve made room for. The more we come to be filled by Him, the greater and fuller the filling will become.

When we’re ravenous for the Lord, people notice. Just like London’s movement at the top of his bowl made me put down my sponge and watch.  London is healthy, full of color and life. This is how God intended him to be.

God has designed His children to make the world stop and stare. The world should look at God’s children and ask, “What are they so hungry for? What makes them so passionate that they would jump up out of the mire of life to reach for more?”  Then we can pull up a chair and invite them to taste and see that the Lord is good.

My husband teases me, “God wanted to teach you to have blue fish faith”.

Cute. But if he buys me another fish, it’s going in the frying pan. Just sayin’.

 

New…or just glued?

nordwood-themes-162462-unsplash.jpg

My New Year’s Resolution is allow myself to be new…not glued.  Sometimes, I imagine picking up the broken pieces of my life, and clumsily offering them up to God. I then imagine that he will piece them back together, making something beautiful. Well, almost beautiful. If it weren’t for all those cracks showing through the ‘glued me’…I would be stunning. Although I imagine God has put me back into some sort of functioning vase, you can still see the jagged pottery bits trying to cling gracefully together. I imagine, one little wisp of wind will send the ‘glued me’ crashing to the ground. I will shatter all over again.

But this is how I view myself. This is not how God sees me. I am not the product of a clumsy repair job. This is the nasty lie of the enemy.

We must remember what the word of God says. If we have Jesus, we are a new creation:

” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’. -2 Corinthians 5:17

The new has come. It does not say, “If anyone is in Christ, he will put them back together’. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus wants all of our broken pieces. He wants us to recognize the mess on the floor and lay our shards at his feet. But this is not so he can piece them back together. He takes the bits and pieces and exchanges them for something entirely new.,

He wants to exchange our brokenness with His fullness.

Truth is, I do not want broken pieces to be a part of my life’s fabric anymore. If they are, then I am not fully a vessel of Christ. I want my heart to echo John the Baptist,
He must become greater; I must become less”( John 3:30 ).

Sometimes we like to romanticize our past hurts and mistakes. We like to think they contribute to ‘who’ we think we are. In reality, our focus should not be on WHO we are, but on WHOSE we are.

Our past decisions and experiences do not define us anymore if we are children of God. Our Father defines us. Our salvation defines us.

In Isaiah 43:18-19, God encourages his people, ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

God wants to do a new thing in us. Are we too focused on the things of the past to perceive it? Are we so focused on the repaired vase on the shelf, that we miss the brilliant new one being offered to us?

A repaired life is not a bad thing. Satan would have us happily sit in this complacent truth. He assures us, ‘Repaired is enough, it is more than you deserve‘. It is true. A repaired life is more than what we deserve. But who are we to be so bold, to dash and diminish the work of the cross?! And even more so, belittle the power of the resurrection?!

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” –Romans 6:4

We will never understand the self sacrificing, all consuming love of our Savior. We can at least understand, the foolishness of clinging to a repaired life, instead of passionately grasping a hold of a new life. A new life that our Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to pour over us. My prayer this year, is that I accept his beautifully gracious gift of a new life everyday. Everyday I want to wake up and pray, ‘Jesus,p today, make me new’.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

Show Me.

meiying-ng-581602-unsplash

The prophet Isaiah was called by God in one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring ways in the Bible. Read his account and imagine yourself in Isaiah’s place:

‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-7

Breathtaking. Frightening. Awesome. Humbling.

Even more mind blowing: Isaiah’s God is my God.  With the same power and holiness He is high and exalted in my life.  He is seated on the throne now; just as he was in Isaiah’s time.

I realize I don’t ask to experience God in his most powerful holiness in my everyday life.  He is my friend.  My comforter.  My Father. My Solid Rock. My salvation.  He is all these wonderful, holy things.  But how often do I walk hand in hand with the ‘Lord Almighty’? How often to I see him seated on a throne, high and exalted?

How often do I pray: ‘Show me your glory, God’.  The answer: Not enough.

All these emotions of unworthiness came to the surface of my heart as I read a Muslim women’s testimony this week. Latifa was praying to God : Show me! Show me the way! Show me.  If Jesus Christ is the true way, show me.

I was so blessed by her bold prayer. I cried as I read on how she was at the beach with some Christian friends and they asked her to partake in communion with her. They asked her to read from 1 Corinthians 11.  This is what happened:

“As I was reading,” Latifa recalls, “I was in the Spirit. I was transferred to the upper room. I could see Christ. I could hear Christ. I could sense him saying, ‘This is my body, broken for you.’ ” I didn’t know how I looked. Everybody disappeared. Time stopped.  I was there with Christ, with the awesome presence of his holiness. I started looking at my life with his eyes.  Suddenly  my life, with which I’d been content, looked terribly dirty.  I wanted to run away. then I heard him say, ‘Eat. I came not for you to run away, but, on the contrary, for you to come close to me.’(Daughters of Islam, Miriam Adeney).

Tears welled up in me from a deep place as I thought of Isaiah and Latifa. They both reacted the same way in the presence of God’s holiness. Isaiah cried, ‘Woe to me! ‘ He immediately saw his uncleanliness.  Latifa immediately saw how ‘terribly dirty’ her life was. Isaiah thought he was ruined! Latifa felt she had to run away. But God is the same today as he was in 740 BC. God reacted in the same spirit to his children…thousands of years apart from each other!  Isaiah was cleansed and his sins were forgiven. Latifa was told to ‘Eat’ at the communion table. She was told to come close to him.

Such grace. Such holy, holy grace.

We must see how worthy God is, to understand how unworthy we are.  We must understand his mighty power, to understand his grace.  Our God, with his robe filling the temple, being worshiped by seraphim, their voices shaking the thresholds as they cry,  ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty’– this true God: He could wipe us out.

He has every right to leave us dirty and unclean. We are sinners. He is sinless.  How dare the unholy enter the presence of the holy? Only by the blood of the Lamb. While Jesus was hanging on the cross, Matthew 27:50-51 reads:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”.

The veil was torn the moment Jesus gave up his spirit as a ransom for us. We can enter into the temple with confidence.

Only because our holy, powerful God, is good. 

He is always good. Forever holy and always good.

So this week, I am praying for the boldness to pray like Latifa and Moses. Moses declares to the Lord in Exodus 33:18  “Now show me your glory.”  I pray that I have a passionate heart to see God seated high and exalted everyday. Isaiah’s God is my God too.  He is sitting on his throne, waiting for me to enter into his temple.

At his feet, I will be cleansed.

At his feet, I will be loved.

Dear Lord Almighty,

     Show me. Show me your glory. Teach me to want your presence above all else in my prayer life.  I only want you. I want to see my life through your eyes. I want to have a deeper understanding of your holy grace.  Give me a deeper understanding of your holiness. Set me apart for you. Amen.