Comfort

I want you to think about the times when you were little and you received comfort.

Maybe you can’t remember a time. The bad feels too big and there aren’t any memories of comfort. Sit awhile longer and ask God to show you His comfort.

This morning, I pulled a blanket out of the dryer and thought when I was little warm clothes from the dryer tossed on me while I sat on the couch felt so good! I remember my body instantly relaxing. An exhale of “ahhh…”.

I also remember how you grandma would let us crawl up in her lap and to be held by her felt so comforting, nothing else really mattered.

So maybe when the day feels like too much, or the sleepless nights are mounting. Find a memory, something that felt good. Something that felt like comfort void of shame and guilt. And do that. Remind yourself who is with you.

The God of all comfort.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Time to discover

I’m reading a chapter about boundaries. Yuck is my immediate reaction when talking about boundaries. Boundaries feel mean but I know it’s something I struggle with.

But last night I found some new phrases around boundaries that helped me and maybe they’ll help you.

  1. Boundaries help us be our true selves.
  2. Boundaries create space for us to discover what we desire, what we feel, and what we need.

I’m use to running around meeting everyones needs and then getting really frustrated when others don’t meet my needs, but most of the time I don’t even know what my needs are. Boundaries help us know where we begin and end and where someone else begins. They help us hold onto ourselves when circumstances become difficult.

What happens when we make room for ourselves?

Mirriam Webster defines discover as “to obtain sight or knowledge for the first time.”

As we come to Christ and sit with Him we can learn He saved us so we can be ourselves with Him-free of guilt and shame, knowing we are loved, completely as is. And He is there to love us just as we are and heals the parts of us that feel broken and shattered so we can be our true selves. Because “the broken things about us are not the truest thing about us (Aundi Kolber “Try Softer”).”

Sometimes it’s hard to get quiet. It is difficult to carve this time out especially if you are at work and it’s noisy, or at home and your kiddos are running around, or if you are trying to do virtual school. But remember Jesus is in you, we don’t have to go far to hear Him. And really it just takes a whisper “What do you have for me right here Lord?”

Oh He is faithful.

And maybe an easy first boundary is “I need time to think about that.”

Let’s make room to discover who we are. We don’t have to be afraid, we are loved and accepted.

Uncomfortable grace

Last week I went into Walmart to grab milk and eggs. We only needed milk and eggs. But listen, I have the hardest time not running through the clearance at Walmart. I’m a mess, I know.

And as I made my way to the clearance I went to the bedding section, and thought oh yeah we could totally use new sheets. (For real, we had one pair and we need a backup.)

Next thing I know I see a dear friend from church and her daughter. We smile and chat for a few minutes. My youngest is looking at all the pillows and stuffed animals by the sheets. My friend and I finish up chatting and my littlest and I head down the next aisle. I got sidetracked again and grabbed a really squishy pillow, then we went down the clearance aisle and ran into our friends again. She commented on how great the pillow was and she hoped I got to take a nap on it that day.

I was so grateful to see her and catch up. With COVID-19 it’s hard to see people and try to figure out what’s appropriate or not. We both felt joy seeing each other.

I finally grabbed what we needed and headed to check out. My friend and her daughter checked out in front of us and we said good bye one more time.

As I’m checking out I realized I left my wallet at home (darn purse change) and so I returned those few things to the worker and head out the door thinking I’ll go this afternoon and get milk and eggs. It was a sign, I didn’t need the sheets and pillow anyways.

We walked out front and our friends were waiting, and I thought oh wonder if they needed to tell me something. No, they just had a little blessing for our youngest.

I said, “Man, I forgot my wallet (because my cart was empty).”

She replied, “Oh, we are going back in and I’m gonna get that stuff for you.”

I said, “Oh, I can send you money through my phone!”

She replied, “Absolutely not.” She said she was blessed she got to see me that day and knew she was supposed to help.

I was embarrassed. Uncomfortable. She wanted to buy not just my milk and eggs, but my sheets and pillow! I sheepishly accepted.

They poured blessing on blessing to us that day.

And as I’m thinking on that story today my heart wells with gratitude. I want to owe her back. I want to do something in return. But maybe my only roll was to accept the blessing, the free gift, and be grateful.

I couldn’t help being reminded of the gospel.

Jesus sent us the most perfect gift, and sometimes it is flat out uncomfortable for me to accept I need it. But once we do, “God pours out His Spirit in our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5) so we can live a life for Him. A life that is grateful. At the end of Luke 7 there’s a story about a sinful woman who comes in to see Jesus and she begins to weep at Jesus’ feet with gratitude and she wipes His feet clean with her hair! Then, Jesus replies, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many are forgiven–for she loved much. But He who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47”

His forgiveness of all her sins drew her in love, He wasn’t going to punish her, but forgive her completely. And she overflowed back to Him in gratitude.

I love that my friend showed me Jesus. Reminding me of my need, even if it’s uncomfortable.

How can we show God today we are grateful for His free gift of grace? Can we give it out?

The Truth

Some days I have profound moments with God where I know He is speaking straight to me.  It’s not in a different voice, it’s my voice affirming a truth from His Word.

Seasons come and go and I’m in a hard one.  One that is requiring a lot of my time, energy, and attention.  Emotional growth is one of the hardest parts of my journey so far.  Connecting with my emotions, memories, hurts and pains.  I don’t like it.

What I am learning in this time is God’s Presence in my life is deeper than I ever have felt Him before.  Another layer, depth with my God, my Savior who promises to never leave me or forsake me.

I’d love to just have some comfort and an easy walk but to be honest I don’t really think about God being with me then.  I think about how I am crushing it and keeping myself together.

So today, I’m spending time journaling and putting pieces together that feel painful but I’m seeing fruit.  And the verse, John 8:32 comes to mind, “…then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  I kind of brush it off, because I have read this verse a million times praying it over myself usually in the form of freedom from anxiety.  But today something new came and I want to share it with you.

Sometimes searching for the truth feels a little like detective work.  But in this case God clarified for me I want you to experience the truth.  Truth that is real no matter what’s going on.  See freedom from anxiety is circumstantial.  Stressors will come and I will deal with the anxiety again, and hopefully less overwhelming the next time.

But God says to me I want more:

I want you to experience my love.

I want you to experience my forgiveness.

I want you to experience my closeness.

I want you to experience my grace and compassion for you.

And experience comes from being with other people and allowing them to minister to you.  Allowing them to speak over your life the truth when you are having a hard time holding onto it. And in this God shows us Himself, through people.  And it can draw our eyes back to Him.

John 8:31 says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciple…”  from this verse I’m reminded of James 1:25, “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”  I don’t know about you, but I need help remembering.

Freedom comes from sitting with Jesus over and over and over until we finally experience who He truly is to us.  And what I love is this is not an independent endeavor.  People are a part of this process.  Mine are a counselor, friends, mentors, and my husband.

Who are your people?  Who are helping you experience who God really is?  How are they teaching you?  What connections are you making from these experiences?

Lord help us to see you for who You are and how You see us in return. 

Do you re-read books?

Do you re-read books?

I have a few I like to re-read.  These are part of my resources.  Books that speak over me and encourage me.

It goes without saying but just in case, the Bible is an irreplaceable resource for me.  It speaks to me and it amazes me how I can hear the same verse and depending on the day I hear it differently.  God speaks through His word and I believe He speaks through other’s too.

So while God is speaking to me through His word, He also comforts me through others words.  Books have been a comfort for me especially as I work through healing.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning was one of the first books that taught me I can come and sit at Jesus feet as is.  I can come to Jesus with all of my feelings that I’ve labeled good or bad.  I can come with my sin and sit at His feet and you know what He gave me in those moments, His love.  Deep gratitude began to grow in me towards God.

Then it was a few years and a lot of heartache later, God met me with the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray and it rocked my world.  I was in counseling working through trauma and Bonnie’s words spoke over me so clearly.  The heart of her message was that I need “space/rest” for God to speak over my wounds.  She has been a kindred spirit and I am grateful for her words and how God to used them in my life.  She also wrote Whispers of Rest which is a continuation of how we get spiritual whitespace in our life.  This book really helped me reconnect with myself, because God wants to be with all of us not just part of us.

Finally, two books that are impacting my new year.  Try Softer by Aundi Kolber  and To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue.  If you need salve for a worn out soul, if you need comfort, if you need space to just breathe and know you are safe-these book hold that space for you.  They draw you back to God and renew a fresh perspective that is better.  It is better to try softer and not be so harsh with ourselves.  God is a God with compassionate love towards us.  I believe He wants us to experience this here and now.

These are some of my re-reads.  I will pick them up when I feel misunderstood and hurt.  I will pick them up when I need a pick me up.  I will pick them up when I need to know I’m not alone. These books break me out of that “stuck” feeling and help me become more curious.

What are you reading that is speaking to your heart?

Encouraging you in a new way?

 

Grace upon grace

One story I have not liked in the Bible is David and Bathsheba.  How could God use someone who’s had an affair and then killed the lady’s husband.  I wrestle with this in my denial of my own sin sometimes.  Then David and Bathsheba are named in the lineage of Christ.  Jesus, Messiah, the Holy One.  They are named with countless others in Christ’s lineage that did not “earn” their way onto that genealogy, but they are used by God for a greater purpose even though they have many flaws and failures.  Their qualifications weren’t because they were good enough and did all the right things.

That is the God we serve.  A God who is willing to show us the worst of the worst and we say nah, He can’t use that.  And He does, every day.

His grace knows no bounds.  There is no sin we could produce that God has not already seen and forgiven in someone else.  He longs to give us grace.  But we settle for pride and try to work our way out of the bad situation.  When will we learn grace is always better and produces lasting fruit?

John 1:14-16 says,

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Jesus came in grace and truth.  Maybe we believe if we come to God with our junk He’ll say, “Now I told you not to do that and you are bad.” But what He says is, I know.  I know what you do, how you spoke, or what you thought.  And my grace is here to meet you in that to help you.  Grace upon grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul boasts that He is weak because in that humility he receives what he ultimately needs, grace.  And God promises that His grace is enough for us in our weakness.  What are your weaknesses?  Yell at your kids?  Gossip about a friend?  Cheat?  Lie?   Grace will meet us in our weakness, if we seek Him.  Then, it will give us power to live in His power.

Finally, James 4:6 says,

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””

All we need to do to get grace is to humble ourselves, and one of the best ways I know how is to pray.  Pray today and humble yourself before God, and before you get up and go, receive the grace that He promises.

 

Continually

Man, what if I told you our work isn’t done until we meet Jesus face to face.

You’d say, yeah I already know that, thanks.

But what about your heart? I know there are still issues there, because there are still issues in my heart.

What if I said God continually wants to work on you?

I’d say, whew I’m already exhausted from this whole being made new thing.

And guess what, I’m exhausted because deep down in my spirit I believe I can pull one over on God. I think yeah yeah, but watch me God, I’m gonna do this super fast and we will work this issue until it’s gone forever. Then something happens and that old way is triggered and I find myself working on it once again.

Guess what, He’s not proud of us if we do it faster. He’s proud because we are His and we did nothing to deserve it.

Because, we all have sin. We all have pain. We all have needs. We all have areas God is not done with yet. We all have suffered and if we haven’t, we will.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

In this world, we will be wronged. We will feel hurt. We will experience pain. We will be rejected.

And because of all that, we need a deep ever present God to be with us. And if we are constantly seeking Him, repenting and asking for forgiveness, and truly crying out to Him for wisdom and mercy:

He will give it.

He will forgive us.

He will meet us where we are.

Over and over again.

And one day we will be in His Presence and we will know Him because we walked with Him through it all.

So keep soldiering on and know this is a good process of continually being made whole.

Is it enough?

We live in a culture and time when it is hard to believe we have enough.

Enough stuff.

Enough relationships.

Enough health.

Enough activities.

Enough time.

Enough healing.

Enough energy.

Enough intelligence.

We have so many things telling us what we are doing is not enough. And then someone near us is doing something new so we think we need to too.

Is what you’re doing enough?

How do we accurately access if it is truly enough?

1. Listen to your body. It tells you when you’re pushing it too much. It has a limit and it will yell when you’ve passed it. Ex. Sleep problems, knee problems, tension, or just being cranky.

2. Allow people to speak into your life. Sometimes we are totally unaware of ourselves because we’ve always done life this way. We tend to have a closed mind when we are wondering if we are doing enough. Ex. Am I doing enough for my kids? My friends? My diet? My workout? My faith?

3. Pray and seek. God has promised He will provide all our needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 12:9). He will never let you down. And while we may believe that intellectually, maybe like me you need that truth to go to your heart. Because our heart says I need more clothes, more food, more relationships, more energy. But sometimes it’s just resting in what God has already given us.

That sounds easier than it really is, but I think if we use all three in our lives we can really access what is a need and what is a want. Do we have enough? We know the answer is yes, but why do we live like it’s no?

Asking for a friend.

What is your not enough?

New seasons

New seasons bring excitement, change, grow, rest, nerves, and the list can go on.

You might hear someone say, “I’m in a new season.” And with that brings all sorts of things to my mind. So, I think “are they doing okay?” “Ooo, Are they pregnant?” “Are they working on something?” “Are they hoping for something to come to fruition?”

And for some it might be all of the above (except for us pregnant=we done).

When I begin a new season I feel totally inadequate, wobbly, and unsure of myself and what I’m doing.

Isn’t this life though. The circling back through, changing the season so we can look at something in a different way. And if we are off balance that might be good so we can learn something new and go deeper. Deeper into who God is and what He wants for us.

Our world cycles through its seasons and God created it and us. He cycles us through things too and that’s okay.

The other night we were reading a book about how leaves change throughout the seasons. Leaves have all the colors for fall even in summer, but the green outshines the oranges, reds, browns, and yellows. And with each season something new is revealed.

So in this season, what is God revealing to you?

He’s revealing to me:

He is all I could ever want.

He will never condemn me and he wants healing, redemption and freedom in my life.

He loves me on my good and bad days.

He sees something in me I cannot see yet.

He is good.

Go into a new season with hope, because with Christ it will be good.

God can be trusted.

A few weeks ago we began our morning, we got up and were running around all day.  I was tired and feeling overwhelmed because I hadn’t slept great from a storm the night before.  My husband was out of town, and we were in survival mode for the week.  I know myself enough to know that on weeks like this I need space and time to reset even during the day, not just at bedtime.  But I forgot in all the chaos.

So we made it to bedtime and I realized I hadn’t read my devotional.  And thought, “it’s okay I will just read it tomorrow, there’s grace.”  And there was and is grace for me missing my devotional (and you too if today was one of those days for you!).  But I felt a nudge to go ahead and read it that night.  So I did, and the title was “Medicine for the Midnight Moments” and it was on rest.  (Secret Strength: For Those who Search by Joni Erikson Tada)

How beautiful these words were on rest. Salve to my tired soul that night. Resting in His Sovereignty: He is in fact in control.  Webster defines rest this way: “to remain based or founded to cause to be firmly fixed.”  Many nights my thoughts can bounce all over, which happened that night after those storms.  And I forgot a phrase I like to say out loud before bed, “I can rest, because my God can be trusted.”  Might sound silly, but when I say it out loud it reminds my brain I can rest with the truth: the world is not resting on my shoulders, but His. In these moments I realize I do have what I need.  It is here if I will slow, stop, and listen. 

My youngest did a project at school, a Bible stop sign.  Red is stop and pray, yellow is listen to God, and green is go where He tells you.  The simplicity of God is amazing to me.  How he just speaks so slow and kind to us.  It is not condemning or controlling.  Its a wooing voice that calls us to rest and sit with Him.  So He can reteach us.  

I love these sweet moments, where God steps in and says yes!  Don’t despair daughter, I’m not done with you yet.   I’ll keep showing up, you don’t have to doubt for a second if I will be there, and then He does, shows up again for me and for you.

He is faithful, Sovereign, and true.  

How is God showing up for you?

Abba, help us to rest here, without having all the answers.  Help us to rest in Your Sovereignty.  You are great and mighty, help us to see how big You are so we are not overwhelmed with our present state.  We need you and ask that You guide us in the path of peace and rest.  In Jesus name.

Amen.