Encouragement

LOOK UP

Someone I know and love is hurting today. I am sure you can think of such a friend too. Hurting people are all around us aren’t they?

She’s a sweet sister in Christ. She’s a mother of rough and tumble boys – just like mine! Her heart is the size of Texas. She gives until it hurts and never asks for anything in return. Many aspects of her well structured life are up in the air and now out of her control.

I sure can relate to a lack of control can’t you?

I’m reminded of my tiny twins who weighed little more than a pineapple, lying side by side in their iscoletts. I think of the time after Isaiah’s surgery for necrotizing enterocolitis when the surgeon left us with these words,

“Every hour Isaiah survives is a good hour.”

A knot wells up in my heart when I think of such times. I often visit the hospital where Isaiah nearly lost his battle. The doors slide open and the smell that rushes through brings me back to those dark days.

Can you think of one?

By God’s grace, it’s not just the darkness I remember. I remember the light that flooded the scene even when I couldn’t see it. When I couldn’t feel it. I remind my friend today that she is not alone. I remind you today of the same.

Luke Smallbone of For King & Country wrote this song while enduring his own period of darkness. Enjoy this video and be reminded of how God carries our burdens!

 

 

 

FOR THE RECORD

I often notice and secretly envy those who seem to have it all together – all the time. You know who I’m talking about.

For starters there’s the mother who speaks patiently to her children and never seems to raise her voice. The beautiful woman next to you in fitness class who holds a plank for 3 minutes and never breaks a sweat. After 30 seconds you cave and give her the evil eye.  Then there’s the one who is always dressed to impress. She walks into a room and suddenly no one else exists. Every hair is in place and her makeup is a work of art. Her nicely dressed children sit quietly beside her and never interrupt when she speaks.

IS WHAT YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET?

Perhaps for some what you see is what you get. Or, could it be that what preceded your encounter with said angelic being of perfection looked a little different?

Lady #1 – Had a screaming match with her disobedient child and she either lost her voice in the process and is only capable of speaking softly or she feels absolutely miserable that she let herself get out of control and is genuinely trying to do it right this time.

Lady #2 – Has worked tirelessly and lost the weight of an entire person. She is dedicated, disciplined and works extremely hard to keep her diet healthy and her weight under control.

Lady #3 – Despite being beautiful feels like the ugliest person in the room. Her makeup is her mask. Her clothes are her mask. Her children are her mask. Behind each of them she hides the real her, terrified that no one would like who she really is.

I write from a heart deeply burdened over the masks I once wore and with a longing and earnest pray that God will help me to keep them off. I long to be real. I am honestly so tired of pretending.

So, I write this entry to set the record straight! As you visit, read and share in this blog with me I need you to know that I am not at all like the beings of perfection who seem to constantly cross my path. I don’t have it all together. I am a Christ follower, a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend who longs to seek God with her whole heart.

I desperately want to leave my masks behind.

I want to know what it is to love Christ and to really know Him.

BROKEN STILL? YES! IMPERFECT STILL? YOU BET!

I long to die…to selfish ambition and selfish gain.

I long to die…to my way of thinking and reasoning.

I long to die…that what might remain and be seen in me is not me at all but Christ.

Eva Kroon Pike, a Christian recording artist and dear friend wrote a song that describes me in just two words, Perfectly Imperfect.

May the Holy Spirit draw us to Himself and do His beautiful work in our hearts.

What are some masks you find yourself putting on? What are some you see in the church? Let me know in your comments!

BROKEN

“Mommy, he sobbed, it’s broken. My favorite toy is broken!” Toy pieces took turns falling out of his hands as he attempted to bring them to me for repair.

This scene has unfolded many times in my house especially when the children were little.

In some cases I was able to fix what was broken or at least enough to satisfy their broken heart.  Other times the break was beyond my ability to repair.  Instead of returning it to my child, much to their dismay, all the broken pieces were thrown in the garbage.

I have at times in my life felt like those broken toy pieces – beyond repair.

I taped. I glued. I stapled. I did whatever I could to make the pieces all fit back together. What I failed to see was that I wasn’t capable of fixing it.

I didn’t do what my children do when their toys are broken – run to the one who can fix them.

As I share in my story, when I laid on the floor of my bedroom at the end of myself, for the first time I took all of those broken pieces and offered them up to my heavenly father.  I tried for 32 years to fix it and couldn’t.  He accepted them and has been repairing them ever since.

What an exchange!

He was willing to take the time, the effort, and the love to repair me and He still is.

 

THE PERPETUAL DO-OVER

How often I have longed for do-overs at various points in my life. I can close my eyes and think of several instances.

No matter how bad I’d like to, I can’t go back in time and change the past. We each have only one life to live but could it be that each day God sustains us is in effect, a do-over? A perpetual do-over?

I have a love-hate relationship with exercise and yet God often reveals a strong parallel between my physical body and the spiritual battles I fight. On a good day I wake up early for my morning workout. Day after day my body needs me to be disciplined to do this. Yesterday’s workout, as good as it may have been, simply will not get me through today’s need for exercise. Yesterday’s healthy meal plan will not take care of my nutritional needs for today. I must do it all over again…and again…and again.  Of course there are times I need breaks and lately I’ve taken far to many of them, but as a matter of lifestyle I must repeat this process day in and day out.

Just a few days of letting these habits slide and suddenly I find myself mad at the dryer for shrinking my jeans again.

Conversely if I failed to eat healthy and exercise my physical body yesterday, despite what I might think, I haven’t “blown it.” I may have some catching up to do but today’s dawning came with a do-over of sorts.  Today I can choose to right those wrongs. My mind however attempts to deceive me into allowing yesterdays failures to keep me from seeing today’s do-over.

Couldn’t the same be true in our relationship with God? He provided fresh manna daily for the children of Israel in scripture. Yesterday’s manna was not meant to sustain them for today. There were some people that tried to keep the left overs. As it turned out it rotted, stunk, and was completely inedible. But God was not and is not a father that will leave his children hungry. Even those who attempted to hoard the extra manna were not left to starve. Each new day presented them with an opportunity to trust God to provide for the manna they needed that day. Every morning for them was a do-over.

Just as I cannot get by with my healthful habits from yesterday neither can I as it pertains to spiritual matters. And in these matters the consequences carry far more weight (no pun intended). I needed God yesterday…I need him today and I will need him again tomorrow.  Yesterday’s time spent with him will not get me through today. I need him all over again. Yesterday’s lack of time spent with him should not hinder me from seeking him today. Despite what I think I didn’t blow it.

As the sun rises and my eyes open wide, God has already given me a sweet gift. A do-over…a perpetual do-over.

THE BLANK CANVAS

Have you noticed that God often gifts us with truths wrapped in packages that we can intimately understand? He did the same with his disciples as he spoke to them in parables common to their own lives at the time.

Artistic creativity is definitely a package I love to open! Writing, sketching, painting and crafting are just the beginning.

As I sat down to draw a picture recently I stared at the blank sheet of paper.  I imagine what I’ll draw and I’m excited.  I want it to be so beautiful.  My pencil makes contact and I try hard to make it as pretty as what I’ve set out for it to be. But before long I’ve made a mistake.  I keep going certain I can correct my error. One mistake…one wrong mark soon becomes two and the next thing I know I’ve ruined the entire drawing. It looks nothing like what I had pictured in my mind. Disgusted with myself I rip the sheet from the pad, wad it into a ball and throw it away.

As a wife and as a mother I feel like that artist.  I was given a blank canvas and I was so elated to create my masterpiece but I feel like I’ve ruined it.

So many mistakes. So many wrong marks.

What I forgot is that the entire time I drew, an eraser was right beside me.  That eraser would have taken out those mistakes and made my canvas blank again if necessary.  I forgot that I could draw right over top of it and make some new marks.  It wasn’t too late.

Perhaps even my eraser marks would’ve added depth and character my piece wouldn’t otherwise have had.

In Christ, as a wife or a husband…as a mother or a father…as a friend or an enemy…as a son or a daughter…as  a sister or brother, we have an eraser too…

It is deep red, blood stained and it can erase even the darkest of marks.

Each day we draw upon our canvas.  To us it may look ugly.  Have you ever seen Bob Ross begin a painting?  How often I’ve watched him begin and can’t imagine anything good much less beautiful will come from it.  But slowly, as he builds layer upon layer, as he patiently and carefully marks upon his painting you can see it beginning to take shape.  We have the ability to see what he is doing from a distance.  We see the whole picture in our view and it gives us a great advantage.  We have perspective.  Somewhere along the way those ugly marks became something beautiful.

The painting…the drawing of our lives happens daily but the masterpiece takes a lifetime to create.

Let us never stop painting. Never stop drawing and when we mess up lets not forget our precious eraser is right beside us. And we are never beyond repair.

THE END OF A THING

Have you ever gotten down to the very last bite of your favorite candy bar, the last spoonful of the ice cream you love or the final sip of that savory cup of fresh brewed coffee? This is the perfect time by the way for you to go and get your own cup and come right back and read on!

Getting to the end of something we take pleasure in and letting go of what we hold dear is an arduous process. For some of us who may err on the side of being stubborn (I like to refer to it as strong-willed) it can take a lot more for us to come to the end of ourselves. We fight tooth and nail to hold onto what is either comfortable or what we can control.

Fear keeps our grip steady and our knuckles white. At some point or another we will let go. It is not a matter of if but when. We will all reach a point in our lives where circumstances will be out of our control and will become more than we can bear.

While in the midst of the trauma with my son I recall all the people with good intentions who would make the following comment:

“God will never put more on you than you can handle.” Oh really, I thought. Well, I’ll tell you right now “I’VE GOT MORE ON ME THAN I CAN HANDLE!!!” What now?

When I should have let go of my rope I didn’t. I was too proud to let go. God warns us in the book of Proverbs chapter 16:18 that “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Destruction came…just like He said it would.

It wasn’t until then that I finally let go of my rope. When people say that to me now I tell them I respectfully disagree. In my experience it seems God does exactly that at times; He puts more on us than we are capable of handling so that we will turn to Him, let go of our ropes and admit that without Him we simply cannot do it.

I recently ran across a scripture in Ecclesiastes 7:8 that brings me great hope:

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning. When something ends something new can begin.  And it may just be more beautiful than you could have imagined.