Thinking about them

Yesterday and today I kept thinking about the women who went to the tomb to be with Jesus.

I imagine each day they have gone to sit with Jesus’ body. Weep. Maybe they feel so uncertain of what Jesus will actually do.

Was it true? Is it real? Has he come and changed me, but now left me to figure this out alone?

Oh I imagine they are grieving. Their Lord, the One who has come and set them free is dead. Are they losing hope?

“As they come to the tomb Sunday morning, theirs an earthquake. When they arrive the tomb is open, and an angel proclaims, ‘I know you’re looking for Jesus but He isn’t here. He is risen.’” (Matthew 28: 1-10)

Hope. These two women, their hope restored. Truth. He really did rise! He’s here! He didn’t leave us!

They ran. They ran to the disciples. Maybe crying, laughing, trembling.

They’d never spoken with an angel before. And He told them the one thing they were clinging onto: He is risen.

Thank you Lord. Thank you that you didn’t just die for us, but you rose so we could know a new life. Here on this earth, we can know a new life.

That’s our hope. He is risen. The Son of God came and died for your sins and my sins.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:57‬ ‭

Through Jesus. He rose so that He could live in us when we believe!

Today our Lord is risen. Today.

We can believe what He says is true. It’s true, He rose from the dead.

Hallelujah.

Walled up

One of my greatest temptations is to wall up.

You know when you feel triggered and the alarm bells start ringing and you say oh no we’ve been here before, shut the doors! It’s not safe! We need safety! Shut down. System offline.

This is me sometimes, you? I had some victory this week I’d love to share.

My security and safety hasn’t always rested in Christ, I’ve tried to rest in my ability to survive, to be self-sufficient.

In fact it is still a temptation to fall back on “walling up” when things don’t seem secure and safe. I want safety, but I’ve settled for survival instead.

And when that self defense mechanism gets triggered I keep others out and the One who can truly keep me safe out too.

God keeps me safe by coming to live within me. Teaching me, guiding me.

I felt tempted to “wall up” this past week. I was scared I’d messed up. Said something wrong and wondering if someone took what I said wrong.

I wanted to hunker down. So southern hunker. But it’s true. I felt all the doors slamming up. Like on the movies when the alarm is triggered.

My body yelled “get safe, shut the doors so no one can get it until we get through this.” But I wall out people, and I also wall out God.

I can’t hear Him, not because he doesn’t want to be close, but because I’ve taken things into my own hands.

He’s kind and doesn’t force me.

He lets me choose.

And this week I said it out loud to my husband, I want to shut down.

He sensed it, as I did. And usually it just takes over. I felt myself fight.

Talking through the issue instead of running from shame or guilt.

These times feel like miracles. It is beyond me. Beyond my ability to stay and not shut down. It was Him moving in me and allowing for me to reach out.

So as I write, I remember 2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

Our safety is secure in our Savior. He meets every need where there is deficiency.

We are safe in Him. He will show you, if but for a moment you will lay down you protection. It takes time. But He’s there waiting, believing in, and loving us.

One step at a time

I keep hearing this phrase so I thought I’d write about it. Mostly because I desperately need the reminder each day.

Nothing in life has come as a quick fix. But I’m so prone to still crave and want it to be that way.

I saw a memory of Facebook last week. One that reminded of the battle we he with eczema when my oldest was little. Oh how I prayed for God just to take it away. I was discouraged. I had tried everything.

The older he’s gotten the better his skin has gotten.

But I remembered how painful it was not having a solution for him. But I can’t remember how it got better. It got better slowly. There was no miracle prayer that fixed it but slowly it’s gotten better. Prayer is important, sometimes it is a miracle healing and sometimes it’s a strengthening for endurance.

This doesn’t apply to everything but if you are in a season of waiting.

Waiting on an answer.

Waiting for a cure.

Waiting on a positive pregnancy test.

Waiting for someone to come to Christ.

For your sake and mine I wish we didn’t have to wait. But in the waiting there is preparation to be had. We don’t have to wait sitting on our hands. But as we wait we can trust and move one day at a time. Do one thing at a time.

And slowly the waiting will be over and the new will come and you’ll be looking around wondering, how did we get here?

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who can you trust?

Trust defined as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or the truth of someone or something.” (www.m-w.com)

Have you ever been hurt by someone? Then you tightened up like a clam for self-protection? Me too.

Trust is my word for this year. I don’t just want to trust anyone or anything. But I believe this word is a direct reflection of what God wants to do in my life.

Trust. Such a simple word. As a kid we know it in reference to our caregivers. Whether that was a source of trust or distrust.

If childhood relationships is an area that was particular wounding for you, you might struggle trusting God.

When our closest relationships wound us it begins to reflect how we see God. We see him through the same lenses of distrust.

However, I believe God can heal that distrust. It’s not a three step plan and your ability to trust God changes this afternoon. No this is a deep sitting with God and letting him change you from the inside out.

He has used trustworthy people in my life to grow this in me. Friends and counselors who were for my good and listened without judgement.

And for some it will be releasing this distrust from childhood that will open the flood gates of God in you, the hope of glory, the reason you can trust God and who He says He is.

May we sit with the uncomfortable, be comforted by our Savior and grow in our trust with Him.

Feeling Stuck?

Feeling stuck is universal for us all. Maybe you feel stuck in a relationship that’s difficult or stuck taking care of someone with a sickness. How about stuck teaching your kids from home? Or stuck financially trying your best to make a dent but it just doesn’t seem to be working. Are you stuck waiting on a vaccine? Are you stuck in winter waiting for spring?

One thing, I’m grateful our presidential inauguration is over. I was feeling pretty stuck for awhile, that in between is the pits for me. Waiting on the new while still in the old.
For me it feels like you are straddling between a boat and the shore, not all the way in the boat and not fully on land yet.

Sometimes jumping from that boat to land is a leap of faith. It’s a hold your breath, close your eyes and hope the ground is still there when you jump.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 it tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So as we take our leap of faith, whatever that looks like for you, let’s not focus on ourselves. We know how that will go, like Peter we’ll sink. The ground will be there when you jump, because Jesus is our ground. He cannot be moved. He is here and there.

Hebrews tells us,

  1. Have hope many people trusted their faith in times just like we are living. We are not the first and we won’t be the last.
  2. Lay off your struggles with sin. It was finished on the cross.
  3. Look at Jesus. Surrender to Him. When your eyes fall to yourself, train yourself to look back up. The pressure is on the One who is in your growing and perfecting your faith.
  4. Remember Jesus endured so we could run, move and have freedom to live for Him in these in-between times.

We are never truly stuck if we have Jesus.

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?