Broken and Discarded

It has been quiet around the blog these days, but not so of my spiritual life. You see, the world is changing me at rapid fire speed, so quick I almost can’t keep up. Before you begin to pray for me that I’ve left behind a world of faith let me explain…

A fire has been burning deeper and deeper into the pit of who I am. Every headline, every conversation comes back to the same things to me over and over again. And today, it became inescapable.

Today something in me broke.

My desire to please others broke, my willingness to sit quietly broke. My timidity, and self doubt of wondering if I had anything worth sharing broke. My thoughts that I cannot, should not, and will not do more than “ordinary” broke. With a spinning head and aching spirit I jumped on my treadmill and began to run.

“Father!!”, I cried out. “What do you want from me?! What’s YOUR will in all this?!”

Everything from the last few months came flooding out me (mostly in the form of these strange rivers down my cheeks). I ran, I cried, I listened until that still small voice you know speaks out only when you are truly ready to listen.

God showed me that my thoughts and my heart when I’m with him are not mine, but His. I cannot just show you headlines, and articles to change your opinion of who we are (those are other people’s words), but I can share with you my heart as God has shown me in my own words. So may I present you with an extremely painful entry from my personal and private prayer journal. It is with God’s boldness and prompting that I want to release this to you…

“Brokenness! Brokenness and cover-ups! We have been lied to, we have been deceived to believe that our brokenness is repulsive, shameful, undesirable. We have thrown beauty in the garbage because it was less than perfect. Abortions, euthanasia, and now euthanasia of children too! We’ve been told our diseases, our unwanted pregnancies, our “brokenness” is unwanted! We’ve been told there’s no reason for us to see, hear, live, carry forward in our brokenness. But Father!! You, YOU see us not for our brokenness, but for PURPOSE.

I’m shattered! I’m utterly destroyed by the frivolousness way we treat the fragility of life. The way we discard, abandon, and look away from anyone and any situation that is below perfection. Anyone and any situation that requires work as if to say, “how dare you take away from my time”. Such selfish individuals we have become.

As if our time is truly ours to hold in the first place.

As if somehow we’ve given ourselves authority to pick and choose what has value and what does not. How dare I ever escalate myself to such a level, or to say “it’s just too much, just too messy”. No! I have not come to live a life of ease and comfort. I have come to SERVE.

I AM HERE WITH A PURPOSE.

The broken, the washed up, the beaten up, sick, discarded, diseased, lifeless, dying but not yet dead, emotionally wrecked, mentally unstable, too old, too young, and the not quite born yet are HERE WITH A PURPOSE.

I am blessed to have a voice, ears that work, eyes that see, and limbs that move. (If I had only of of those I would still have purpose and duty to serve with what I have). It is my obligation as an ambassador of the Father, who is never frivolous with life, to speak life and love to the broken. To not turn my back, or look away, or to even keep silent. Because in my silence, when I clearly know right from wrong in the eyes of the “Father to the Broken” I am letting the lies of the enemy win a war I am deeply invested in.

To those whom much is given, much will be asked. It starts with whatever we have. Look into the eyes of the messy, the unwanted, and the rejected. Be Jesus. I need to tell them they are completely beautiful. Tell them they are desirable. Tell them they are wanted and have purpose. (Tell them they have value!)

Life is fragile and precious. No breath is breathed without the breath of mercy from God!

Father! Save your children. Silence the enemy that seeks to deceive. Let us rise up like a mighty army for you! For your children! For the broken and less than perfect! Raise people up who will reject social norms for the sake of igniting fires in your children. People who will reject laws and social ideologies at whatever the cost for the sake of those you are chasing after. Amen.”

My heart!! Oh how it hurts!!

In a world that has been broken down into binary code and facts, it’s easy to see why we have become just another disposable number. Please know, to the Father, you are not disposable! He took every effort to craft you, and shape you into who you are. Of all the people already in the world, he knew that he needed a YOU to be included his plan. Don’t let that pass you by!! Never underestimate that you have value with the Creator of all things and in all circumstances!

In spite of a world that increasingly tells us we are of no value, and completely disposable, God’s word and his promises do not.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

So, in my brokenness for brokeness I offer you this final thought. Would you stop seeing the world and the people in it based on the way the world is treating it? Would you stop letting it be ok to discard life and treat it with it so little respect? Would you stop when you hear stories from others and ask, “does this show our value as God sees it?”. And would you instead be brave, and speak up while laying down your need to be culturally acceptable? Would you speak life and value in a God-honouring manner to those who are around you. I am. I’m going to try anyway, and I ask that if you are my sister (or brother) in Christ that you would encourage me and each other to keep going. I know it’s not going to be easy. I’m sure I’ll lose a few friends along the way. And I’m sure I’ll fail miserably sometimes too, giving my selfish thoughts back to the world. But I will keep trying! For you! And for me! May I leave with you some encouragement from our most precious Bridegroom who paid the price and signed the deed for an eternity with you:

I have loved you just as My Father has loved Me. Stay in My love. If you obey My teaching, you will live in My love. In this way, I have obeyed My Father’s teaching and live in His love.  I have told you these things so My joy may be in you and your joy may be full. John 15: 9-11

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19 (emphasis mine)

love,

S

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When Proverbs 31 Seems to Set the Bar Beyond Your Reach (aka- a blog post for the mom with young children)

She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs with no fear of the future.

Prov 31:25

To the mom in the trenches of motherhood with young children Proverbs 31 seems like a long ugly list just waiting to point out our shortcomings. When you’re sitting on your couch with a crying baby in your arms, spit up on your sleeve, food on your shirt, hair in a greasy sideways ponytail, and you’re not sure when the last time your showered was, the thought of being a Proverbs 31 woman is the farthest thing from your mind. And if by chance someone brings up that passage you’re likely to cringe and recoil into your oversized sweatpants. Your sink is full of dirty dishes, your inbox is overflowing, there’s a load of laundry on your machine that you washed three days ago and you’ve successfully forgotten to take it out (though you’ve remembered to start the wash for good measure at least twice by now). And one day, one extra chaotic day, you snap. (Probably shortly after you’ve come home from church on a Sunday after you sat in the nursery with your tiny child again and not heard a single sentence from the sermon for what will have seemed like eternity). You’ll long for those days when you would sit quietly meditating on God’s word. Those days when you could pray in the quiet of your home. Those days when you dreamed of working overseas to serve in an orphanage, or build homes, or supply people with fresh water- you know- the important stuff?! You’ll come home, quietly stifle your tears while you plop sandwich meat on some bread for lunch,  then excuse yourself to collapse on your bed in full on sobs.

In aguish the plea goes out to God. “Why aren’t you giving me more time to serve you?! If I’m suppose to be doing Kingdom work, then when and how do I fit it in between nose wipes, bathtime, and paying bills? How is rocking this child all.day.long. of any importance to life?!”. You’ll wonder when, WHEN is God going to call you into ministry to do something important for him. When will this frantic season of mundane motherhood be done? And, at the very least, you’ll wonder when you’ll be able to sit alone with your Father in the quiet, bible in hand and just be.

Did I describe you?

I’m fairly certain I just described every mother with small children.

Including myself.

As I read through Proverbs 31 I saw a slightly different picture of who this woman is to be. I also saw who she isn’t. In the twenty-one verses that describe this woman, no where does it say she sits quietly for hours deep in prayer with God, no where does it say she leaves behind the mundane and goes to serve in a foreign country. This gives me hope!

And, in spite of all the things she does, it’s still probably what most of us would say are the mundane chores of a day. She makes meals for her family, she shops for the best deal on whatever her household needs, she stays up late hemming her husbands pants (well, sort of). Her husband is well known and highly regarded, so we can safely assume she a) spends a lot of time listening to him and being an encourager, and b) she holds the fort while he tends to work so he doesn’t have to worry about home. She sews clothes, has a little business to earn a little money, and watches over her household and family (probably even wiping snotty noses in there somewhere). And while she opens her arms to the needy it seems to be right out her back door, not overseas.

Every single one of those isn’t glamorous, or demanding the “look at me, I’m serving and doing amazing things for God!” mentality. They are the quiet and the ordinary things of life. It’s twenty-one verses of a busy wife/mom doing what busy wives/moms do best. It’s twenty-one verses of dishes, laundry, drying teary eyes, mopping floors, showering, date night, hemming pants, and making a casserole for a sick neighbor.

So why isn’t God blessing this wonderful woman with a beautiful ministry to bring him more glory? Why hasn’t he seen her diligence in housekeeping and promoted her to a more coveted role of work? something with glamour and woo factor? And for crying out loud, why hasn’t he at least given her an hour or two of quiet time with him?!

You see, sometimes God moves us quickly from one spot to another, and sometimes we sit tight…for what seems like forever (especially when we’re in the middle of it). He anchors us for awhile so to speak. But, he doesn’t do it because we are being punished, or because we’ve failed at a task and he’s waiting for us to improve. He’s doing it because he doesn’t need us to do anything. He doesn’t need our hands holding orphans in Uganda, he’s got that. He doesn’t need our mouths teaching english in Singapore, he’s got it. He doesn’t need us to stay up for hours contemplating deep theological theories, he knows them all anyway.

The Proverbs 31 woman knows that she’s right where God wants her. She knows she’s serving God through the mundane. It isn’t where she is or what she’s doing, it’s her attitude. She knows that when this world fades away it won’t matter whether she’s washed laundry, cooked hot dogs and Kraft Dinner, and cleaned dog puke stains from the carpet for the entire last year or created a ministry that clothes the homeless around the globe. What will matter is HOW she served wherever she served. Did she feed her family the KD and hotdogs with kindness and treat the little ones who spilled their cup of water for the gazzilionth time with a gentle approach that reflected her God? Did she seek to do the mundane knowing it was God that required that of her, not just temporary circumstances that she’s only waiting to get through to get to the other side of where she can REALLY serve?

Her strength and dignity, her fearlessness of tomorrow, and her kindness come from knowing that she’s right where God needs her. Right here. Right now. He makes the world spin, he really doesn’t need us to do anything more than sit down on the floor and read Hop on Pop to our tiny child one more time before bed. Our lives bring him glory no matter if we’ve heard this weeks sermon OR if we rocked in a chair while attempting to stay awake from sleep deprivation in the back corner of church.

Grab a few sticky notes and write your favorite verses on them and leave them around the house. (try this one: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Col 3:23-24) Read whatever verse you choose and put them into memory in your heart. Meditate on them when you have brief moments. That’s your bible reading for this season. Sing Jesus Loves Me (and really mean it) while you grab the mail with your newly walking toddler, it counts. Play worship tunes in the background of your daily life. Whatever little snippet you add in, know that it all counts.

You’re right where God needs you.

At the end of the day, when you crawl in to bed and mutter a tiny “thank you for getting me through today” before you fall asleep, for this season, it’s enough. You’re doing enough. God needs you here. Right here. And rest assured, one day you’ll hear a sermon again.

 

Love,

S

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Stolen

stolen

Stolen. This is the word that has been rolling through my heart over and over. I believe God’s been using this word to rework my thoughts and soften my heart. Read this passage from Psalm 139 with me:

13 For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

This is God’s love letter to us! I don’t know how many times I’ve read this to myself when I needed to remember just how much my Father loves me. What joy it brings to know that his thoughts of me are innumerable, but this post isn’t about his thoughts of me, or of you, it’s about the stolen.

As our world grows increasingly hostile towards the views of God-fearing believers we risk our hearts growing bitter and angry towards those who are lashing out to us. I too have found myself angry at political leaders, or false teachers I hear leading others off course, or many others I could think of that are in my day to day life. Stop for a minute and think of the person who gets your blood boiling the most right now. Really do it…got one?…or two or three? Read on…

Those people you like the least were created by God (duh! You knew that didn’t you?!). That passage above about God being there when they were being crafted in their mother’s womb was for them too (I can feel your eye rolls from here- this is Sunday School teaching I know). God needed all the good characteristics in those people to make the world he created better reflect him. Somewhere in their life Satan told them lie after lie and quietly stole them away from God. Still not feeling moved to tears for their lost souls? Nope, I really wasn’t either.  Let’s be honest, those are the ones that we think they should have something coming for them! These are the people we wish God will judge with the same hand he tore Sodom and Gomorrah apart with. These are the people we back away from waiting for God to strike them down. We’re talking the worst of the worst! These are the people I feel offended by because I feel I need to be offended FOR my God. I feel like somehow my indignation is justifiable because they have spit on the face of my Father. He MUST be angry by their actions, and therefore I may also be angry on his behalf.

Then God painted me this extremely uncomfortable picture. You’ve heard of those crazy, awful, make you sick in the pit of your soul stories of children who were kidnapped and held hostage in a house for years and years until they no longer remember what the rest of the world looks like? Those children that, once found, are so broken that it takes years and years, if ever to undo the damage done? Those kids. They are stolen. (And thank God that those stories are so rare!!) Truthfully, he painted that picture as if it were my kid that were stolen, and I wanted with all my being to vomit. I wonder if God feels the same when he sees his kids here on earth that have been stolen.

Now, should you happen upon the house where they had been held hostage, and you were the first person to make contact with them after they had only known their kidnapper for years, how do you approach them? Well, I’ve not been there, thank goodness (and I pray it never happen to anyone I know!!), but I’d imagine you go slowly. You let them know you aren’t going to hurt them. If it were my child being approached I would hope it would be done with gentleness, and cautiousness. You make allowances for social norms they miss, and don’t take offence to actions from them. Why? Because you understand someone has done immense damage mentally, physically, and emotionally to them.

That heart. Your heart. Right now. THAT’S the heart God wants you to use for his stolen children. The kidnapper is Satan, and locks up God’s children mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually until they no longer resemble God’s kids. John 10:10 tells us that, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (a)”. The word “thief” in that passage actually means “one who steals” in Greek. He steals them away, then holds them hostage with lies, he feeds them anger, fear, false confidence, and a sick and twisted version of love that resembles nothing that love is. And you, you may be the first one to happen upon one of these stolen kids. 

That person whose name you thought of early that bothers you to the core because they seem to be offending not only you but your Father as well, they are a stolen kid. They have been swept away from the very Father you feel they are offending. You both come from the same Father! They are afraid of you and don’t know why. They are afraid of you because their soul knows you are not speaking from the familiar place their kidnapper speaks from. And you have the chance to rescue them and call back to a place of hope. That justifiable anger you’ve been feeling towards them isn’t justifiable at all, because God is a Father who wants his kid back. Your offence that you took from them is not you feeling offended FOR God because He is not that easily offended. Our PRIDE is, HIS pride is not. We don’t need to protect our Father, we need to protect our siblings. We need to reclaim the stolen from the thief, the enemy.

So, do you judge the stolen for their inability to respond in a godly manner? Do you get angry when they spit in your direction? No you don’t! God did not plan for their lives to be as you see it, he has so much more to offer. The rest of John 10:10 tells that God has “come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Look at the face of person you perhaps despise and know that they are a sister or brother who has lost site of their Dad. They have been away from him so long they can’t remember what he looks like, or sounds like or how he wants them to behave and speak. God wants them back. He wants them to have life to the fullest, and you are in their very lives right now because you can love them like a sister or brother.

From here on out, when someone begins to get under your skin, whisper the word “STOLEN” to yourself. Ask God for eyes to see them as a child who has lost sight of their Father’s house rules, and most importantly the true love that he has to offer. Offer them unconditional love and gentleness by holding out your hand in hopes that you can show them more than they’ve witnessed in the basement of a thief after all these years.

 

John10-10

Father, thank you for chasing relentlessly after your lost sheep. May we have eyes, ears and hearts for your stolen children. Would you keep our hearts soft, and let us not take offence from those who have lost sight of you. Would you help me to let my life reflect the Father they have lost sight of? In Jesus name, Amen.

Love,

S

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When you Feel Too Damaged to be Used by God

This post has been sitting on my computer for the last few weeks, but I kept getting distracted from sharing it. This morning I woke up with an almost urgent need to share it, as if God was pulling me to my computer to share this with you. So, I pray that this lands in the hands of whomever it is that needs it today. Feel free to leave a comment, or send an email if you’re heart is heavy with this and want some prayer. Please know that you never alone, and that no matter what your past or present looks like, God loves you. He has placed his family all around you, to be here to help you through whatever is weighing you down. We are two of your sisters in Christ who would be happy to listen.

Without further ado, here’s the post…

I was reading in the book “The Good and Beautiful God” (James Bryan Smith) of a story of a professor who brought in a box to his class. He asked the students to beat up the box, then stuck a light inside and turned off the lights. Out of the holes shone the light.

This image became imbedded in my mind, and eventually curiosity got the best of me. One quiet day when no one was home I found an old box in our basement and thought I’d give it a go. At first I was careful. I gently took a knife and punctured a hole through it. To my surprise tears flooded my eyes. I kept going, being less and less gentle with this box. Each rip, each stomp represented something in my life that had changed who I was, something that hurt deeply. Each crumple and each hole was a painful memory from my past. I kicked the box around my kitchen awhile longer thankful that no one was around to watch the spectacle.

After, I took my box to my basement where the sun wasn’t shining, and found a light to stick inside. I stood back looking at my crumpled box, and the light streaming through that lit up the room around me. It struck me, those rips that ripped the most were the places where the light was shining the brightest. My gentle little hole pokes with a knife where hardly noticeable. It was where I really let lose that the light could escape into the dark room the best.

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This image stayed with me the rest of the week. It really is an image of salvation! You, me, and everyone around us is a fragile cardboard box. We live in a world filled with sin, and as a consequence of living here we get beaten up, ripped, and stomped on. As a container we serve no purpose, we cannot hold whatever stuff we were thought to be purposed to contain. When we accept Jesus to come live in our tattered, sinful containers (our bodies), he does what only he can do. He shines brightly through our flaws into the world! He is so great that he cannot be contained to our damaged selves. No! Instead he spills out of all our imperfections, our shortcomings, our past hurts and lights a path for others to see. A path that will direct their tattered, damaged containers to him, so that they too may join with him in union and spill his light into darkness.

The devil’s been talking though. He tries to tell us that we’re usless. That we’re so damaged that there’s no hope that God would want a life with us. That there’s no hope that God could use sinners like you and me. What a lie! It is through those very weaknesses that God shines out into the darkness! That’s grace my friend! Grace that comes from God says “I know you are flawed, but I want to live in your life.” Grace from God washes away the stains of our past. He takes our crushed, useless containers and turns us into something that’s usable again. He can take whatever rip, and tear you think is too big, and shine so brightly through it, that it won’t be able to be contained! Remember those rips I made? It was places with the most damage (those places that hurt us worst, and left the deepest cuts) that the light shone through the brightest and the furthest!

Are you ready to invite him to be part of your life? Are you ready to ask him to live in your life? To live inside your empty, dark, tattered shell and let him shine through you? If so, I would encourage you to just ask him! It’s so simple, he’s never left your side, even though you may have lost sight of him.

Perhaps you’re farther along in your walk with Christ, but always beating yourself up to be better tomorrow. Continually grasping at being a “perfect” Christian and falling short every time, until defeat swallows you up. It’s time to let perfection go, my friend. Neither you, nor I will make that mark on this side of heaven. Remember God’s promise to Paul though? He says that his power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)  He understands we are weak, and imperfect. Let go of the mask you’ve been wearing to cover those imperfections!

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor 4:6-9)

love,

S

Father, I pray for whomever needs this today. I ask that you would speak to them in their weakness, to encourage them and let them know you have not forgotten them. Thank you for taking the time to delicately craft each and every one of us! Thanks for including us in your plans, may we never forget how valuable we are to you! In Jesus name, amen.

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