Remarkable Recognition

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19  This verse is in reference to the miraculous moments surrounding her son, the Savior.  Each time the inexplicable occurred, she recognized the magnitude of the moment and committed it to memory.  Every instance of God’s goodness and grace was intentionally internalized and treasured in her heart.

God moves and makes miracles occur everyday.  I need to recognize and remember each work of the Remarkable, so that which is stored in my soul sustains and reminds me of His great faithfulness when things get rough.  His goodness is not dependent on my faithfulness, yet my capacity to catch and carry the treasure He is providing is directly connected to where I fix my eyes.  If I am looking to Him, I am quick to recognize His tender touch and loving light  in each occurrence.  When my eyes are averted, I miss the miraculous provided by my Maker. 

I want to see and savor every treasure He entrusts to me. 

Lord, may my heart be made tender to Your touch and my eyes firmly focused on You.

Impossible is Possible

“For nothing is impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37  There is nothing in heaven or on earth that God cannot do.  He who parted waters, rose the dead, redeemed the outcasts, gave sight to the blind, gave voice to the silent, touched the untouchables, cleansed, restored and renewed (to name a few…), is the very same God who is living and active today.  Where there is hurt, He can heal.  Where there is sorrow, He can bless with joy.  Where there is fear, He can grow courage.  Whatever the challenge or obstacle, God is able to overcome.  I am to present my requests to Him, and trust that He hears and is able to answer.

Last night, the impossible was made possible in me.  What I thought I could never imagine doing, was able to be done.  His grace was provided and His courage came in.  Though it may have been seemingly insignificant to those present, or those who may hear that which has happened, to me it was monumental.  Though I write and make public my thoughts, I have come to find a sense of safety in merely writing and making it available.  I rarely have to see or hear how what I write is received as it is read, so the risk of rejection is miniscule.  A few friends have asked if I would read something I have written, and my response is always the same.  “I don’t read my writing aloud.”  My fear and lack of faith have been obstacles to being open.  As my Sunday family gathered, one among us asked if I would read something I had written.  My immediate response was “NO”.  I was then asked if I would mind if it was read for me.  Heart pounding, fear rising, I slowly nodded and found myself with the courage to consent.  I sat in the dimly lit room nervous, yet His nearness was known.  I felt exposed, yet embraced.  The response was more than I could have imagined, and I was blessed to see how what I had written was received.  God’s faithfulness to answer a hesitant prayer uttered many months ago, was right before me.  Courage I never thought I could have, came and covered my heart and allowed me to simply sit and see God move. 

Though I did not read the writing myself, God is gentle and patient with me.  He promises to finish what He begins, so I know it is only a matter of time…  If I dwell on this, fear attempts to flood in.  Yet if I take a moment and look back at how far I have come in only a matter of months, a sense of anticipation begins to rise up.  What if the words spoken to me actually become realized? 

What a remarkable ride.  I need to remember it is He who is directing my days and allow Him stay in the driver’s seat while I remain the passenger and enjoy all that He has for me on this journey.

Gentle Guidance

Gentleness is not necessarily avoiding the delivery of reality, rather it is extending truth in kindness with the graciousness of God.  At times truth hurts; yet there does not need to be a sting in the spoken.  I find that when words are spoken by one whom I trust, and they come beside me in love, I may not enjoy what is said, but am ready to receive the words delivered in loving kindness as the extended grace grants freedom to examine my own heart to hear what is true. 
 
God works that way.  He does not yell nor come at me in wrath.  He stays beside me and gently whispers His truth to my heart.  His direction (or redirection) for me is offered as I read His word, spend time in His presence, and commune with fellow followers of Him.   Sometimes the path I am to pursue is quite plain, and the answer is quickly recognized and readily accepted.  However, there are times that I am uncertain as to what exactly I am meant to do.  I go about my day doing as I think I ought to, and suddenly something in my spirit says otherwise.  It is in these moments of misstep that I am to press into His presence and find out what I am called to do differently. 
 
As a person who avoids discomfort and conflict at all cost, this process often takes much longer than it should.  I avoid what I fear, and I fear what I do not know or understand.  Academic unknowns are seen as an opportunity to learn, rather than places of fear.  Yet anything that is emotionally driven or can cause an extreme emotional response, is still a fearful space.  I find that rather than facing the fearful, I busy myself so that I can avoid what is right in front of me.  Fortunately, He waits for me to be willing.  Ever patient, He uses every opportunity to draw me unto Him, so that He may heal and restore those emotionally charged places that I so fervently avoid. 
 
I am finding that I am in a season where this is the constant theme.  His hope is to heal each place that I have passively pushed aside, and to teach me how to trust Him to help me navigate being in the moment, no matter how uncomfortable.   What I see as weakness in myself, is really an opportunity for His strength to be seen in me.  For in my weakness, He is strong. 

To Cherish Change

I love summer and sunshine and free time.  As this new season seems to be shoving its way into the forefront, I am surprised at how there is eager anticipation rather than some sadness as the warm delightful days of summer dissipate.  Regardless of the rain, I feel a sense of refreshing and renewal.  As the drizzle covers the thirsty ground and cleanses away the dust, leaves begin to transform into their fiery form, as they respond to the change in the air.

Perhaps it is in the challenge of change that the internal fire is fueled.  This sort of hope is rising as the reluctance is removed and I choose to extend my arms to embrace the new.  I am being tried and tested, refined and renewed.  Areas in my life where I feel ill-equipped, my Savior is supplying what is needed to not only survive, but to thrive as I seek and surrender to Him.  It is as if He is washing away the weariness and the wounds, and is imparting insight as He heals.  Though it seems a lengthy process, He holds my hand and my heart as I try to trust. 

This morning as I was reading in Revelation, I found myself pleasantly surprised by encouragement, rather than fear.  Something about all of the detailed descriptions of destruction tend to bring on terror, rather than hope.  Today was different, as I recognized the hope held before me by Heaven’s hands.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4  The change described in this is particularly poignant as it offers much hope for what is yet to come.  Far too much death and mourning have been seen in recent days, and the ache that accompanies crying and pain is at times, almost unbearable.  Brokenness surrounds me, and I am often uncertain as to how to extend hope in the heartache.     

What is most critical to remember is that in Him, there is always hope.  He uses the darkest of days to demonstrate His lavish love for the lonely and the broken.  As I offer my hands and my heart, He makes a way for His hope to be handed to the hurting.  When I surrender and trust, He wipes away the tears and brings blessing as He resurrects resolve to keep running.  His newness is near and His changes are great gifts of His glorious grace.

Need for His Nearness

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18

He is ready and waiting for me to be made aware of His nearness.  It is really I who must lift my eyes and heart to Him.  As I call on Him in truth, I am made aware of His presence.

Calling on the Lord in truth is coming before Him with raw honesty; not withholding any fears or failures, and exposing my whole heart to Him.  Though this can be a fearful process, as the shame for my disregard for His deity in my disobedience is disappointing, He accepts my offering with open arms and lovingly holds my heart in His hands.  He takes the twisted tales that I have allowed my heart to hear, and replaces them with His truth.  His nearness is desperately needed, so that my heart and mind may be restored.

The remarkable truth is that He is always near.  It seems that my ability to be aware of His presence is prevented when past pain (self-inflicted or otherwise) is given room to grow.  When I shove it down away from my conscious thoughts, it waits, festering all the while.  The sooner I give it to Him, the more quickly I become aware of His great grace and loving kindness that is waiting directly in front of me.

It takes courage to come before the Creator and admit how awful I am.  Though He knows my every thought, word and deed, there is something so sobering about choosing to lay it all before Him.  My human nature is ugly, yet He, who dwells in me, is not.  The more that I grant Him access to all of my heart, the more His residence is evident.  Where words have wounded and have been handed to Him, it is from that very place that I am able to extend encouragement.  He promises to work ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him.  That includes my failures.  Each one that is presented, becomes redeemed somehow. 

What I know, I love.  And so it is with Him.  He knows me and loves me in spite of myself, and continues to grow courage within me so that I may meet my Maker in each moment as it comes.  I am so grateful that He is not finished with me yet…

Flesh for Stone

Repeated injury often causes a build up of scar tissue that can become stone-like in its space.  My heart is much the same.  Over time, repeated injury and offense tends to cause a closing off, creating first a barrier, and ultimately a fortress wall.  This hardening of heart though self-protective, it begins to shut off other outlets of emotional access, and what once was tender toward others, becomes callous and cold.  My intent is not to be a barrier to the Beloved, but a bearer of His Light.

Though He dwells within me, I limit what He can accomplish through me when my heart is hidden behind fortress walls.  It is only when the barrier is bound, that people may truly see His tenderness through me.  In order for His loving kindness to be extended through my existence, I must offer my wounded places to Him, and allow His tender touch to heal the hurts.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26 

He willingly takes the hardness in my heart and replaces it with a tenderness like His.  As He transforms my heart, He empowers me with His spirit so that I may walk with Him.  When I choose to trust, He changes me.  He gently and lovingly removes the hurts and the lies and replaces them with His truth.  He gives me His heart and His spirit so that I may be an extension of His hands to those who need Him. 

I am so grateful that He does not leave us hardened and broken.  God delights in making me whole.  Ever He waits for the extension of my heart and hands toward Him, so that He may embrace and empower.  His healing happens when my heart is willing to be held.

Faith in the Face of Fire

This morning as I read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel, I am again reminded of God’s ability to do far more than I anticipate.  The three faithful followers of the Father, were told that they must worship a statue made of gold, or they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.  The trio knew that God asks that we worship only Him, so they refused.  When King Nebuchadnezzar asked that the men be brought before him, this is how they responded in faith:  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand O king.” – Daniel 3:17

To me, this is a display of unwavering faith.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew and trusted God, and were able to speak confidently before men, even when their life was on the line.  I can only imagine what must have gone through their minds as they were bound and carried off to the fiery furnace by the soldiers.  The king had the guards stoke the fire to seven times its normal strength.  He too must have had much on his mind.  As the guards threw the trio into the flames, the same guards were consumed by the intense heat, yet the trusting trio was not harmed.  In fact, when the king peered into the mouth of the inferno, a fourth fellow was found.  Not only did God protect His faithful, but He sent an angel to encourage  His people with whom He was pleased.

As the king looked on in awe, he called to the men to come out of the fire.  When they again approached the king, he was amazed that no evidence of the fire was upon them, not even the smell of smoke.  At this incredible display of God’s power, Nebuchadnezzar called for his people to worship the only God who can save. 

The perilous pace of life today makes it easy to overlook the daily display of His deity.  When I slow down and look around, I am overwhelmed by all of the beauty and bounty provided by Him.  He places the lonely in families, He loves the lost back to life, He provides calm in the midst of the storm, and loves with His very life.  I need to remember that He is able to do exceedingly more than I can imagine.  I must trust that His heart is always for my good and by faith, present my requests before Him.  Though I cannot always see what He is doing in the hearts of men (and women), I must trust that change is taking place.  By faith, I must believe it will be done.

This morning as I present my requests before Him, I also ask for unwavering faith so that I too may trust that He is doing the unfathomable.  His heart hears and He continues to hold my hand as I fix my eyes on Him and learn to trust Him more today.

Light in the Darkness

“He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” – Daniel 2:22

God alone reveals that which is hidden and hindering me, and brings light into that which lies hidden in the dark hollows of my heart – for He is the Light.  He sees and knows all that is shoved down and sheltered from sight.  He is not shocked or horrified by things hidden in my heart.  For He made me and formed me and knows all that I am, and all that I am not.  In His great love, He brings that which is concealed into the light as I choose to hand Him what lies hidden in darkness.  It is only when what is hidden is seen, that it may be healed and removed. 

He does not force His way into such spaces, rather He waits patiently for me to allow Him access.  I must be willing to trust.  He who is Light, wants me to live in His light.  As I surrender that which is hidden in darkness to Him, His light shines on it and reveals the truth.  He is far greater than my fears and failures and He is always at the ready to hold my heart in His hands.  As He shines into such darkness, I am made new.  Each shadow removed is a burden lifted.  Cumbersome shackles are shed from my shell, and my eyes are again directed to His.

Darkness and death are not His doing; rather He is the Light to life.  He holds the key to my personal prison and grants release as I surrender those spaces long hidden from sight.  True freedom is found in the glorious gift of His grace.

A Spray of Surprise

Unexpected blessings seem to come when they are needed most.  Yesterday afternoon, Super Spouse was working and the boys were in the land of doldrums.  The three of us were a bit bummed that our usual Sunday evening plans were not in place and a serious case of the ho hums was beginning to set in.  It was a gorgeous day out, and we needed to be out in it.  Then and there I determined that we were going to get out in it and enjoy the gift of this late summer day.  On with the swim gear and off to the spray park nearby.

We walked up to a busy land of delight, filled with giggling soggy kids and smiling sun-kissed parents.  I selected my parental perch to oversee my offspring and simply enjoyed the warm sunshine on my shoulders and the laughter in the air.  Though hesitant at first, Cautious soon joined Adventurous in boldly braving the array of spray, and both were happily soaked.  They ran around through the various water hazards and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Before long, one small buddy appeared before my eyes.  The sweet son of our wonderful Sunday plans family had arrived to enjoy the spray, as his mom had just returned from a weekend away.  Not only did my kiddos now have some of their favorite friends to frolic with, but I had the pleasure of comfortable conversation as I soaked up the sunshine with some of my beloved besties.

I was content before the blessing of their arrival, but completely overjoyed that our timing had been so beautifully orchestrated.  What had begun as a ploy to get the guys out of the house, became an excellent evening.  The park was followed by pizza and as our eve ended, we all parted, pleased that our paths had so unexpectedly crossed.  Though content, my heart had been heavy with the haunting recall of 9/11.  Reminders and reflection are good, but I did not need to allow the heaviness to hold my heart.  Being out with dear friends put it all in perspective.  Yes, it is good to remember, but it is also good and necessary to enjoy the blessings of each new day.  He provided what I needed.  I would have been fine if it had remained just us three, but He blessed me with better.  “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24  Because of His great love for me, I wake with enthusiasm to embrace this brand new day.

Tragedy to Triumph

Two massive towers stood

between the city streets

employer to countless folks

the rhythm and heartbeats.

That day began like others

up and ready, on the way

then the unthinkable happened

and we’ll never forget that day.

A plane had hit a tower

the nation stood in shock

what was this fearful tragedy

happening over NYC blocks?

Then a second plane

crashed into tower two

this was more than an accident

suddenly our nation knew.

A third plane struck the Pentagon

reducing walls to dust

yet first responders did not hesitate

they just did as they must.

As a nation watched on in horror

and fears rose up indeed

the enormous towers collapsed

and our nation stood in need.

When those who were watching

thought how can this be so

a fourth plane was reported down

and the frightful fear did grow.

Countless heroes did rise up

and sacrificed their lives

to help and protect and seek and find

husbands, children, wives.

This wound inflicted on our nation

was even seen from space

a tragedy that forever changed

the way we view this place.

Beauty rose from the ashes

as our nation did unite

to rise and help each other

stand strong for what is right.

No, our nation is not perfect

there is suffering and pain

yet hearts were forever changed

and a united purpose gained.

Today we mourn the losses

and celebrate the gains

for freedom is not free

and our purpose still remains.

One nation under God

for freedom we will stand

thank you freedom fighters

for still we love this land.