A tiny post to start your week

As I enter deeper and deeper into a ministry that God is calling me to I realize how much it’s going to cost me on many levels. This morning as I spent some time pouring my heart out to him he reminded me of a story from my childhood. I remember being a young kid at recess and going outside to realize my friends were no where to be found. Instead of being upset I would make a little fist with my hand and pretend I was holding God’s hand. I would talk out loud (and yes, looking back, I realize how socially akward that probably made me look!) to my Father and carry on with a full understanding that he was right there beside me. Perhaps as a child it was easier to do, since imaginary friends are commonplace to children. But to me, I was keenly aware that while no one else was around to keep me company that he never abandoned my side. In much the same mindset, at night after my mom and dad tucked me in I would fluff my pillow on one side and pat it gently. I would say, “here you go, God, this spot is for you”. I would fall asleep knowing he was beside me in the dark room.

Oh to have the faith of a child! My adult self needed a reminder to have that kind of faith now. When the world, your friends, your family leave you behind and walk out on you for the stand you take, close your fist and take your Father’s hand. He’s still there. When you’re alone at night and the darkness seems too dark, fluff that pillow and invite him to stay close and keep watch. No matter what persecution you are facing for your faith, your Father’s approval and relationship is the only one that really counts. He will not abandon you, my friends!

love,

S

deut-31

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When it Feels Like Evil is Winning

I had a dream the other night worth sharing as we start a new year…

There was a young forty year old man sitting in a doctor’s office receiving news that he had terminal cancer and was going to die very soon. His family wasn’t present, but I could almost see them like an audience in the background reacting to the news. They were notably upset, angry even. They were angry at the waste of such a young life succumbing to an evil disease. They were outright angry at God and questioned how a loving God could allow such a thing.

Then I saw the man driving home after his appointment. He was driving across a wide open highway when he looked out and saw a small tornado blowing across the prairie field. He saw a small boy about three years old crouched in the field terrified of the approaching storm. Immediately the man jumps out of his truck and runs towards the boy. He scoops him up just as the tornado picks them up and throws them both across the field while the forty year old man shields the young boy. They land on the ground together, the young boy still in the arms of the young man. The young man had been pelted by debris and died on impact breaking the fall for the young lad saving the child’s life at the cost of his own. Again, I could see his family and friends like an audience. This time they sung praises. They called the young man a guardian angel, a hero. By his heroic act they justified his death as worthy and praised God for making him a good man who would be honoured by his death.

I woke up right away aware that God was trying to get my attention. Having been to more funerals than I care to count, I’ve noticed that inevitably at funerals of younger people you could hear statements such as “what a tragedy”, and “taken too soon”. With older people who had lived a “long good life”, there were comments of celebration. Somehow we could justify death if we perceived it to be at a reasonable phase of life,  or if it was death for what we justified as a good reason, such a in my dream in the case of the heroic death. With each perception, our idea of who God was was altered as well. He was either a loving, compassionate God who allowed the person longevity, or he was weak and pathetic stepping back while evil reigned and won a battle.

As I thought about this I realized that we do this beyond just death. God becomes fluid in his personality, actions, and character. If we face enough events where what happened appears to be unjustifiable, we write off God altogether because it challenges our perception of who he is.

This is where faith steps in…

Faith is what kicks in when what we see no longer seems rational, justifiable, or fair. When what we see and hear has no logic, and what we feel brings deep pangs of hurt Faith steps up and says “Trust Him”! If it’s your health, he’s got it. If your work he’s got it. If it’s you’re government, he’s got it. If it’s unanswered prayers, he’s moving mountains where you can’t see yet. Whatever it is, if He’s capable of making everything from nothing he’s certain to make whatever injustice you’ve set eyes on into something beautiful for his glory. Yes, we have free will, yes we can make choices that cause us separation from him. But by his providence and sovereignty and kingship he knows when to step in and breathe life on the lifeless in a way that makes us see through his eternally-focused eyes. The enemy doesn’t win. Period. Like a predictable Hollywood movie we can sit back and know the end even when it looks like the bad side just scored a major win. Somehow watching from the safety of our couch we know the ending, and yet when we are in the midst of our circumstances and trials the end seems rather dismal. 

We wage war in the face of uncertainty. Not with our voices and weapons, but from our knees before anything else. A whisper to God changes more than a million shouts from the enemy. By our quiet whispers we bind and loose things in ways we cannot see. (see Matthew 18:18) We have to have faith that in the realm where angels and demons fight battles that our side is winning, even when it doesn’t seem like it on earth. Don’t give in to the temptation to be another shouting voice above the chaos in front of you. Resist the urge to think that God gave up, or turned his back, or is too weak to “fix” the situation. Resist the urge to be angry, fearful, hurt, envious, to give up, or give in, to stay awake in worry, or to grow anxious. God gave you none of those (see 1 Tim 1:7). He did you hope, love, and FAITH. And when you’re anchored in faith you stand in spite the waves that crash into your foundation. You become a beacon of light in the storm and you did nothing but stand in faith knowing Your God is bigger, you’re God is working in a world we cannot yet see.

whisper

When we have faith in God, we can persevere through whatever the circumstance, even when it looks like Evil has the upper hand.

When we have faith our perception of God doesn’t change with each trial we face. He is a consistent God! (see Malachi 3:6)

When we have faith our minds stay focused on God’s sovereignty knowing he has the ultimate final word on EVERYTHING, even when it may not look like it right now.

If you’re in need of some inspiration of people who chose to have faith in God’s plan instead of believing Evil was gaining the upper hand check out Hebrews 11. Here’s verse one to leave you with…

Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

love,

S

 

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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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